Even if we decide to go the route of having a universal interface, what would it be? You may suggest USB, but even that interface is changing faster than the life expectancy of a vehicle. At least USB has managed to remain backwards compatible, but I don't think there are any panaceas for this problem long term.
I have a 2002 Tahoe and the BMC (Body Control Module) died. The unit requires a dealership to reprogram. GM was out of stock for 6 weeks. Bottom line I lost use of the car for 6 weeks. The car would not not start because the BMC thought there was an alarm condition and cut off the fuel injectors and it cost me over $400.00 to replace the unit. Plus I had to have the car towed to the dealship, there is no limp mode or reset for this condition. I think there should be standard computer hardware in cars much like PCs are a standard today. The software should be yours to reload for the life of the car. At the very least the programming and hardware specification should be made available for third parties to make the products after set period of time. Once GM stops making the parts or goes out of business the cars become scrap.
There is no such thing as planned obsolescence. Companies that supposedly plan for an item to go obsolete are really just designing for a target market using cost verses benefit to the consumer. I’m surea touch screen can be made to last longer than 4 years, but, would it be price competitive.Any company purposely designing with the thought of planned obsolescence would go broke in this world very quickly.Of course, there is GM.
Charles, I too hate reinstalling SW. It takes me 2 weeks of 8 hours a day to get a new computer and install all of the SW I have. That's with using the same OS. If I upgraded to Vista from XP I would have also had to buy a new printer and scanner. It's ridiculous. I've been driving cars for about 37 years, and have liked the fact that the accelerator brake and clutch (when present) are always in the same place. What is it with computer SW designers that they want to change everything on the UI every other day.
it is not alwyas true that life expectancy of electronics is always less compared to mechanical systems. there are electronic timers and switches which are more reliable and durable than mechanical systems. Many a times there are no equivalent systems to compare life expectancy. i agree with your comment that in general mechanical systems are more durable, but then we have to consider many other aspects
Change and Moore's law are reasons for upgrading the electronics, but does not explain why the life expectancy of the electronics is so much less. They're flat-out less durable than mechanical equipment.
as they say change is the only permanent thing in the world and electronics really depict this aspect more than any other domain. moore's law and portrays this aspect and this is the market driver for electronic products. This is not the case with mechanical products and hence mechanicals outlast electronics.
I think you're right about the market strategy being around planned obsolescence when it comes to the electronics in our vehicles, but there is a need to keep up with modern software advances and look at how furiously fast they come at us. Five or so years ago, most people didn't have GPS and only the buyers of high-end luxury cars were talking about syncing up devices (that's because most people didn't have smart phones or tablets).
My point is the pace of this kind of technology is so rapid fire, that these systems will seem antiquated unless they are updated to keep up with the times. I think TJ's suggestion about a platform that lets you plug in your own electronics makes far more sense than having to replace something that's such an integrated part of your vehicle every few years when you're likely not upgrading or replacing your car.
Way back in the very early 1990's, Buick had the Reata. That was a "sporty" largish car with an electronic touch screen display (7 or 8 inch as I recall). My boss at that time had one; it seemed it was in the shop quite often for various malfunctions, and one time he had to replace it (out of warranty) for >$1500! When it went out, hardly ANYTHING in the car worked (except you could start the engine and drive to the dealer). No HVAC, none of the "high-end "features," no entertainment stuff (basically radio/cassete), etc. High "coolness" factor, but ZERO usability! He soon dumped it at a huge loss despite having bought it used (but only a few months old!) at a substantial discount.
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For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.