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Topic: 32-bits is the new 8-bits (Read 6 times) previous topic - next topic


Thats it, I loved those cars, though I could never have afforded to drive far in one.

My mate and I thought of cutting off the top of a station wagon yanktank, welding the doors closed to restore some integral strength, make some drain holes in the floor, and a surf board rack / sunshade on top.

Those plans have been shelved for a while....  ( that was in 1980 when were a bit younger )
With my mobile phone I can call people and talk to them -  how smart can you get ?


Oct 25, 2012, 07:48 pm Last Edit: Oct 25, 2012, 07:49 pm by Constantin Reason: 1

...doesn't it seem like we do a lot of things just because we can these days? Cars seem to be a prime example.

Not sure I agree. Many of the important mileage and safety features these days in cars (traction control, direct fuel injection, hybrid tech, etc.) are only possible / beneficial through the use of very fast DSPs under the hood. I agree that there are other features in cars that have less to do with basic functionality and more to do with bling (watch movies on the dashboard?) but I have to say that given a choice between a car with traction control and one without, I'd pick the latter, every time. Saved my bacon several times, and CPUs make it possible.

I wouldn't be surprised if at some point we may see car-bus systems extend out to the periphery, i.e. turning light assemblies, etc. being powered by a common voltage bus but commanded via a CAN or similar RS485 communication system to save on wiring and weight.


Oct 26, 2012, 11:27 am Last Edit: Oct 26, 2012, 11:36 am by Graynomad Reason: 1
I think you see this through different eyes according to your experiences.

In 40 years of driving I've only had 2 bad(ish) accidents, neither of which would have been prevented by current technology. OTOH I've fixed vehicles maybe a 1000 times in the bush, side of the road, wherever. Many of those times I doubt I could have fixed the car if it was a new one and if it was an electronics problem the score would be 0%.

That said, If I'd been saved from injury or worse by ABS or other technology just once I'm sure I'd be a real convert :) For example I don't live in the snow/ice so see little advantage in having traction control, it's one more thing to break, those who do live in such climates may have a different view about the feature.

Of all the electronics "stuff" in a car, how much is safety related? Does anyone know?

I wouldn't be surprised if at some point we may see car-bus systems extend out to the periphery, i.e. turning light assemblies, etc. being powered by a common voltage bus but commanded via a CAN or similar RS485 communication system to save on wiring and weight.

Another thing we can't fix :)

Rob Gray aka the GRAYnomad www.robgray.com


Hi Rob,

I agree completely - experiences will shape desires in terms of features. Traction control with a rear wheel drive car in the NE of the USA is a huge plus. Even with winter tires, I could kick the rear out easily. That's not an accomplishment, just a reflection of the road conditions up here frequently being less than ideal. Similarly, my main battlecruiser has 4WD and electronics make that better too.

There are other features that fall into the 'nice to have' category, like Bluetooth integration for the phone so that you can call people if you're stuck in traffic. Not a huge benefit in the bush, but a frequent enough issue up here commuting through Boston and its suburbs.

Integrated navigation and traffic monitoring is a computationally-intensive application but a huge time saver, whether you're commuting or traveling long distances along potentially congested highways. 

Some people like to placate their kids with on-board videos, etc. All mine get is books-on-tape.

As I mentioned, getting good gas mileage is pretty much dependent on an array of sophisticated sensors, actuators, and so on. They do have the potential over time to make engines a whole lot less complicated, however. For example, I expect there will be a time when cam shafts and all the mechanicals associated with them will disappear, to be replaced by electronically-actuated valves instead. Analogous to the replacement of carburetors, I suppose.  Ditto for integration of starter / alternator into the engine block vs. add-on approach via belts today.

I see huge improvement potentials in engines that are currently not realized because the car industry is inherently afraid to make changes. Microprocessors would be a big part of that and they already help mechanics diagnose exactly what the issues are that they're going to be dealing with when they open the hood. Thus, for me, the issue is not one of micro vs. no micro, its whether politicians can force the car companies to open their kimono regarding proprietary protocols, error codes, and so on.

That's a much bigger issue up here right now, with car companies arguing that it's perfectly OK to charge $20k+ for a OEM diagnostics tool that no independent shop can justify while dealerships get them virtually free. Similarly, I would like to be able to have a choice re: what OS my car entertainment system is running, as well as where it gets its data from.


Very interesting readings here :-)
Here in Belgium there is no way to be more than 800Km away from your personal dealer.
In Belgium we have MAX(Border distance) < 300km.
In Belgium we have MAX(city distance) < 40km.
I really had to do the calculation to believe it would take a week to drive 800Km at 20Km/h.

:smiley-eek: What a difference  :smiley-eek:

Best regards
Do not PM me a question unless you are prepared to pay for consultancy.
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