The Brain’s Behind Your Smart Car | Computers in Cars
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The Brain’s Behind Your Smart Car

The Brain’s Behind Your Smart Car

The Brain’s Behind Your Smart Car

The computer has become a household name it’s uses are innumerable in this day and age most devices require computer generated functions, even car’s now rely on computers to convey information to car owners the list is endless

Brief Insights Into The First Smart – Electronic Car
The first electronic control units (ECUs) showed up in mass-production GM and Ford vehicles in the 1970s to handle basic functions such as ignition timing and transmission shifting in response to tighter fuel economy and emission regulations.

By the 1980s, more sophisticated computerized engine-management systems enabled the use of reliable electronic fuel-injection systems. They also ignited a renaissance in performance as engineers designed more complex motors to take advantage of the ECU's precision, confident computer-controlled machine tooling could mass-produce them to the high tolerances necessary.

Electronic Car Unit’s - ECUs
Were crucial to the advent of active safety systems such as anti-lock braking, traction and skid-control, where wheel sensors trigger the unit's reaction to loss of grip.

Soon they migrated into active suspension control, allowing for instantaneous reaction to the car's changing position on the road and adapting to varying surfaces.

In the last decade or so, they've been linked to sonar, radar and laser emitters performing functions such as blind-spot and pedestrian collision warnings, automated breaking and safe distance-keeping via smart cruise control. Sensors also provide parking guidance and fully automated parking, with the aid of an on-board computer tied to brakes, steering and throttle.

Safety Computers
Some of the most important on-board computers in any car are those involved in vehicle safety. Anti-lock brake systems (ABS) and electronic stability control both rely on sensors in the wheels that indicate a lack of traction. These computers then either engage a motor to pulse the brakes (ABS) or transfer power to wheels that still have traction (stability control). Air bag control units sense an impact or sudden stop, deploying the airbags in a fraction of a second.

Performance Computers
Modern cars continue to reach new performance thresholds, largely with the help of computers. Almost all passenger cars today use electronic fuel injection, which is a computer-controlled alternative to carburettors that blends air and fuel in precise amounts for ignition in the engine that provides enough power without being wasteful or producing too many harmful emissions.

Another common performance computer is the automatic transmission, which shifts up and down based on speed, driver input and available engine power. Hybrid-electric vehicles also rely heavily on computers to set the blend of electric and gas power to ensure that the car always gets adequate power in the most efficient way.

 

Convenience Computers
A car may include tons of small computers to control all of the various convenience features that drivers have become so accustomed to. Power windows and door locks all use computers, as do self-dimming headlights and automatic windshield wipers.

Climate control systems use a central computer to receive temperature data from sensors inside the cabin and adjust the temperature and flow of air to keep the occupants comfortable. Car entertainment systems are also computer-based, combining CD and DVD players with GPS navigation, hands-free cell phone links, and displays for trip data such as fuel economy and range.

Diagnostic Computers
The modern automobile includes a computer called the engine control unit, which not only manages the engine during driving but also records any problems or irregularities in overall vehicle performance. One of the first things many auto technicians do is attach a scanner to the vehicle's ECU to access recent error codes and get an idea of what might be causing the problem. ECUs measure emissions, engine compression and electrical operations throughout the car.