An accident data recorder is mounted in the cockpit under the driver’s legs so it is well-protected in case of an accident. The ECU is mounted on the left-hand side of the car as the right-hand side is what normally hits the wall first at an oval where the cars run counterclockwise.
KV Racing Technology technicians work on driver Tony Kanaan's car in preparation for the Indy 500 (May 27). Electronics are positioned in the car to pose minimal hazard to a driver during a collision. (Source: Littelfuse)
One piece of IndyCar electronics is unique -- the steering wheel that contains the displays and controls customized to each driver. "Wheel components are located so the driver can operate them without taking his/her hands off the grip," Woodie said. "All components are aerospace-grade, and water- and dust-proof." For reliability, the steering wheels are torn down and re-built on a regular basis, replacing controls as they reach mileage or age limits. A quick-release collar/connector on the steering wheel allows it to be changed out in seconds with a backup wheel during a pit stop if there is a problem.
"Critical controls are hard-wired through the steering column. Others operate through the CANbus used by the dash display mounted on the steering wheel," said Knowles.
Over the last decade, IndyCar electronics have evolved dramatically -- and become more complex. But they have become smaller, lighter, and more capable -- making the cars lighter and faster, while improving data acquisition and control.
Learn more about the Indy 500 at Littelfuse's Speed2Design site.
I don't know if they're overdesigned, but safety and infotainment features for production cars have gone beyond anything we dreamed of 20 years ago. Driver assistance systems now include blind spot detection, rear obstacle detection, drowsy driver detection, park assist, adaptive cruise control, lanekeeping and collision avoidance, in addition to the ten or so airbags, even in entry-level cars. Infotainment includes GPS, CD players, DVD players, and USBs for cell phones and iPods. Given the fact that none of us could have imagined these features 20 years ago, then what's it mean for the next 20 years?
I think plenty of people would argue that repairing software and electronics gitches is probably far more complex than any kind of mechanical fix. Obviously embedded software brings a lot to the table in terms of safety and functionality, but it's not for the faint of heart or for anyone that doesn't have the right diagnostic machinery and software expertise.
There is something to be said for simplicity. I had a 1970s Dodge Dart. I could fix anything on that car, and I could practically stand inside the engine compartment. I couldn't fix anything on the last two cars I've owned.
Nah! The more electroincs the better. Actually, leaving entertainment and other such aside, there are many safety and engine management tasks that are handled by electronics today. Replacing and repairing these systems is easier as well. I started out with 1960s British sports cars. They were simplicity itself. On the other hand they were not particularly effecient or safe.
The increasing amount of electronics within all cars, not just those found on the racing circuit is scary. The complexity continues to grow day by day, even in a low-end car. In most cases, it's a good thing, but could these cars be over-desgined?
Engineers at Fuel Cell Energy have found a way to take advantage of a side reaction, unique to their carbonate fuel cell that has nothing to do with energy production, as a potential, cost-effective solution to capturing carbon from fossil fuel power plants.
To get to a trillion sensors in the IoT that we all look forward to, there are many challenges to commercialization that still remain, including interoperability, the lack of standards, and the issue of security, to name a few.
This is part one of an article discussing the University of Washington’s nationally ranked FSAE electric car (eCar) and combustible car (cCar). Stay tuned for part two, tomorrow, which will discuss the four unique PCBs used in both the eCar and cCars.
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