...exactly, Jack, although Lexus does a great job of adding sensors that are very reliable.
But here's a good example of why glitzy newness is not the best solution....electronic assembly procedures. Many folks immediately suggest using a tablet on the production floor. This may well be a costly mistake, since a $150 digital picture frame doesn't require the operator to touch the screen (wouldn't work anyway if the operated were wearing gloves) and in doing so, have to reach over the work space. The picture frame can be wireless, has lots of memory/can accept memory cards and comes with a remote. In addition, the relatively simple digital picture frame can display 8.5 x 11" documents in full size (15" size) with the ability to zoom and show videos. People often try to make of things that are just not cost-effective/rational for the task at hand.
How many people do you hear giving voice instructions to their cell phones? This feature has been around for years but how practical is it, day-to-day in a work environment?
Your right Dave in the fact that there is a real problem with the "wow" factor. The worst part is it's the little additions or sensors that are most likely to fail...and when they do, they take down the more important systems that you can't get along without.
P.S. @Alex - Thanks for using the proper definition of KISS, rather than the politically correct one that keeps coming up lately.
@WA4DOU (and in other threads, Mr Wolfe), as a Prius owner who experienced sudden acceleration not once but twice, operator error may be involved, but it was a very real phenomenon for me. Both experiences were prior to the recall service, so that may have been a solution, but I am not convinced that the offered solution is a complete explanation. I am still driving the car, by the way, and if it should happen again, I do not plan on panicking that time, either.
I know, this is off topic for this thread. But I have seen several comments on this issue in the context of " it looks like it was all driver error".
Yes, Toyota was exonerated, although not before they were heavily fined, sued by relatives of those who died in the crash and sued again by owners who felt that their resale values were diminished.
Really, they (Toyota) should have been paid back every dime. The real cause of the famous crash here in the San Diego area was because a car washer person installed carpets from an RX400h instead of those for the loaner car, an ES350. That never stopped the relatives of those who died in the crash from suing the dealership because of their car cleaner's honest mistake.
But getting back to the title of this blog - I agree for the most part that many things are overy complicated or created primarily for the "wow" factor.Not too long ago Lexus decided that having a touch screen navigation and information screen wasn't best for space utilization in many of their cars. The old fashioned mouse-like control is back and the nav screen is in a much better location.
Well, given my user name, it would certainly be remiss of me to not comment on the topic...
Having browsed the string of comments, I get the feeling that the subject has been shifted slightly away from the original premise that engineers are being unfocused from their task - which is to make things work without undesired extramural duties...
SparkyWatt makes a reasonable comment in stating that the principle is well known to all engineers, but I contend that the extra S is still applicable - if it weren't, then maybe we should all either become beancounters or owners of the company. Maybe we are collectively stupid - in the way that a certain type of intelligence can subsume an overriding natural order of things within our minds. Can we all add up? Certainly.
So, that's the beancounter side of things taken care of then....
If we all learn how to make our opinions known forcefully enough, and get a bit more backbone then maybe, just maybe, the top of the greasy pole is within our grasp...
And when it is, we can all, once again, sign our name to something that we're actually proud of - I make a point of keeping my Father's 110 year old leather clad spool tape measure in front of me on my desk - It constantly reminds me of the fact that the man who made it went home to his family that night knowing that he'd just made yet another of the best tape measure in the world... It still works perfectly, with an intricate Brass handmade re-winding mechanism. I'd like to sleep as well as I imagime he did.
I always heard KISS as standing for: Keep It Sweet and Simple. Others recognize it as Keep It Simple Stupid.
Regarding the Toyotas that are thought, by some, to have caused deaths: The last I heard reported in the news, Toyota found no evidence to support the claims. Forgive me if I'm wrong for pointing this out. I personally have always believed the claims about various manufacturers models, over the past several decades, causing this problem, were operator errors. As electronics takes over more and more systems in cars, and with the real possibility of rf energy causing bizarre and unusual malfunctions in these systems, I cannot fully discount that source of possible problem. Still, I do not wish to turn over my driving experience and my safety to a plethora of onboard devices that make all my decisions for me and will continue to seek "good basic automobiles" in the interest of cost and reliability.
Another example of this is the runaway Toyotas, a simple established set of controls and interfaces were changed, largely due to marketroids and the messy product ended up killing people.
Standard system 1, having a throttle cable, how primative. On this there was some reasoning, the hybrid drive somethings needs to add power, or to remove it. There were better ways to do this without crash-by-wire being added.
Standard system 2, having brake that can lock to stop the car. All of the cars had ABS, in my car at any speed I can lock the brakes while holding the gas to the floor and the car will skid to a stop. ABS causes the brakes to release and apply, each time building up heat until the brakes overheat. Having the ABS over ride the throttle would have saved lifes.
Standard interface 1, a simple keyswitch or a E-stop that doesn't require the driver to hold it in for 3 seconds. In an emergency a persons sense of time changes, 3 seconds can seem a lot longer with adrenaline running.
Standard interface 2, a neutral detent. On these cars you have to manually hold the gearshift between D and R for 3 seconds. Once again that 3 seconds would seem like an eternity if you were accellerating on a winding road.
ABS is a good system to have but added some potential problems that have never been addressed. The other changes are just fashion statements that took a good product and made it deadly.
KISS itself has already violated its mandate, adding complexity with the last "S" which stands for "stupid" which is simply an epithet and adds nothing to the conversation. It shows how easy it is for all of us to add unnecessary complexity to anything. EVERYONE needs to continually strive for and promote the need for simplicity - KIS!!!
Kevin: I'm in total agreement with your assessment of the right approach. Finding the minimum set of requirements that meet the user need is where it starts. If done properly and with elegance, those targeted set of extremely well-designed capabilities will make users famously happy and in love with their product and that is what engineering should be all about.
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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