What Car Computers Can and Can’t Control

Car ComputerCars today can easily run on up to a hundred million lines of software code. In comparison, that is two or three times the amount of code used for Facebook. With all of this coding, there’s many things they can control, but there’s also a good amount that they can’t control.

Network of Computers

While it is easy to think of your car’s system as a single computer, it is actually a network of electronic modules (ECMs) scattered across your car. These modules are connected to a network of sensors that connect the computers to the mechanical workings of the car.

What Car Computers Can Control

Vehicles run on mechanical energy and power. The computers utilize electronic impulses, and control the mechanical workings of the vehicle through electrical motors. This is frequently done through motorized pumps and motors that are scattered throughout the car. You may be surprised by how many systems this controls, including the following:

  • Brake fluid pumps for anti-lock braking
  • Transmission systems that have motors to change gears
  • Electronic fuel injection to govern the fuel/air mixture in the combustion chamber
  • Cruise control systems
  • Air bag systems
  • Keyless entry and ignition security systems
  • Climate control
  • Oil and coolant pressure

These are just a few of the many systems the computer controls. As computers increase in sophistication, more and more systems are connected to computers.

What Car Computers Can’t Control

Very soon, there won’t be much car computers can’t control. Google has had self-driving cars on the roads for several years, and the Tesla vehicles have software available that allows self-driving capabilities. These utilize external sensors to steer, slow and accelerate the vehicles.

This technology is currently dependable, but there are still many questions about whether the car will sense changes in the road that aren’t included on maps, rural roads or see unexpected obstacles in the distance. With this being said, some of the brightest minds in computing are tackling the issue, and it won’t be long before self-driving cars can handle any road out there.

Hazards of Car Computer Control

If you take a second to think about your personal computer, you will think about things such as hacking, viruses, malware, software updates and more. As computers gain more control over cars, these same threats become part of dealing with cars. As a result, there’s increased attention on security, advanced encryption and updates that specifically address these hazards.

 

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