Every day, virtually everything around us becomes a little smarter and a little safer. In our age of information and technology, new digital and electronic components continually make our lives easier and safer at home, at work and on the road.
Some gadgets and gizmos, like nose hair trimmers, could easily disappear without much fuss. There are many intelligent tools, on the other hand, that make our lives more convenient and safer on a daily basis.
Our enormous world of "smart" technology is ruled by new automotive electronics. Anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control and other indispensable features are excellent examples of smart and safe automotive electronics.
Through recent developments within the automotive industry, there has been a huge increase in the number of electronic devices installed at assembly plants. Here's an example of how quickly cars have evolved electronically: the Apollo 11 traveled to the moon and back again, using just 150 kilobytes of onboard memory. Today's typical CD player, however, uses a whopping 500 kilobytes of memory just to keep our favorite songs from skipping. That uninterrupted music is an iota of how electronics impact a car's performance to benefit drivers.
The term used to describe the technology involved in automobile communication systems is "Telematics", and it was first used to describe the blending of telecommunications and "informatics", or information technology. The telematics industry recently commanded an increased amount of attention from car manufacturers. Industry insiders predicted that telematics would become "the" go-to technology as early as the mid-1990s. Telematics was expected to increase overall sales and transform the automotive industry into a major player in mobile technology.
In reality, these optimistic forecasts panned out to be a little less than initially predicted. As more conservative measures came in to play, the initial industry projection of more than $40 billion dollars has been whittled nearly in half.
By no means do these numbers indicate an abandonment of the development of telematics technology. Automobile manufacturers have, in fact, invested an average of $2000 on electronic systems for every vehicle coming off the line. That's a huge increase over the $110-per-car budget set in the early 1970s. The spending increase is reflected in everything from better engine performance and improved entertainment systems, to security features and safety devices. All of the electronic components work together to provide drivers with more comfortable, better performing and safer automobiles.
Here are some of the most common safe and smart automotive electronics systems:
CAN, or Controller Area Network
Your car doesn't run on one computer; it operates with a network of computers. The Controller Area Network links all of the computers together. This type of system is similar to those used in home and business computers, known as Local Area Networks (LANs). The Controller Area Network in your car links the many separate computer systems together and allows them to communicate with each other. These interconnected systems incorporate critical systems like engine management, cruise control and anti-lock brakes with less demanding applications like seat controls and automatic windows.
Increased Fuel Efficiency
Shrinking resources and soaring fuel prices have forced automotive manufacturers to increase their supply of fuel-efficient vehicles. Smart auto makers are using new automotive electronics to create cars that burn fuel more efficiently. This is most evident with the common EFI, or electronic fuel injection system. Hybrid vehicles have taken this technology one step further, with electronic devices that allow drivers to switch automatically between gas and electric engines.
Trustworthy Safety Devices
There are two types of devices designed to protect the safety of the driver and passengers: active and passive devices.
* Active: These devices never stop working to ensure the safety of the driver and passengers. DSR (dynamic steering response), TCS (traction control) and ASR (acceleration slip regulation) are all examples of active safety devices. You may not notice these systems in operation, but they're always working to create a safer ride. Active devices can sense the road and driving conditions and adjust your car's performance accordingly. Researchers have credited ESC (electronic stability control) with reducing single vehicle skids.
* Passive: While more visible and seemingly simpler, passive devices are also controlled by smart and safe automotive electronics. Developments in electronics and technology have improved the deployment of airbags tremendously over the years. Airbags in early-model cars would deploy too soon or too late and provided little or no benefit to the driver and passengers. Now, cars have more advanced systems that can actually sense conditions that may lead to a high collision impact. Seating adjustment and airbag systems are automatically deployed to minimize the impact and decrease the degree of injury to driver and passengers.
When you consider the safety advancements that have been made in just a decade, you'll agree that today's cars are miles above their predecessors. Our automobiles provide so much more than a lift from point "A" to point "B". With smart automotive electronics, every trip is as comfortable, secure and safe as possible.