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?
Samsung's Galaxy line of smartphones used to fare quite well in the repairability department, but last year's flagship S5 model took a tumble, scoring a meh-inducing 5/10. Will the newly redesigned S6 lead us back into star-studded territory, or will we sink further into the depths of a repairability black hole?
In 2003, the world contained just over 500 million Internet-connected devices. By 2010, this figure had risen to 12.5 billion connected objects, almost six devices per individual with access to the Internet. Now, as we move into 2015, the number of connected 'things' is expected to reach 25 billion, ultimately edging toward 50 billion by the end of the decade.
NASA engineer Brian Trease studied abroad in Japan as a high school student and used to fold fast-food wrappers into cranes using origami techniques he learned in library books. Inspired by this, he began to imagine that origami could be applied to building spacecraft components, particularly solar panels that could one day send solar power from space to be used on earth.
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