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Thread: Your New Car Contains More Code Than An Airbus

  1. #1

    Default Your New Car Contains More Code Than An Airbus

    This Car Runs on Code : Discovery News
    How is this even plausible? And, if for some reason it makes sense (*shudders* Windows Sync comes to mind...) then is it asking for more trouble?

  2. #2

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    I do not want a lot of code in my airbus. I'd like more in my car thank you.

  3. #3

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    Windows Sync is actually a good thing in regards to this, because as a separate software product, it will isolate its functions from the rest of the car.

    The amount of software also makes perfect sense. A typical laptop computer will have over a billion lines of code between its OS and applications, and it has far fewer components, sensors and motors than a car. Perhaps a dozen versus hundreds. Actually, in the article they specifically state that the car software performs 3000 functions typically. It's not hard to imagine 100s of millions of lines of code.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Incomplete Dude View Post
    Windows Sync is actually a good thing in regards to this, because as a separate software product, it will isolate its functions from the rest of the car.

    The amount of software also makes perfect sense. A typical laptop computer will have over a billion lines of code between its OS and applications, and it has far fewer components, sensors and motors than a car. Perhaps a dozen versus hundreds. Actually, in the article they specifically state that the car software performs 3000 functions typically. It's not hard to imagine 100s of millions of lines of code.
    True on both accounts, but what about when it comes into play with the physical engine, or worse yet, the controls such as the accelerator. Also, I'd rather have any code written be open sourced for peer review, but that will never happen.

  5. #5

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    I think the reason for the disparity lies in the fact that each and every aspect of the plane can typically be controlled by the pilot (with the exception of the F-22 etc., they're stabilized substantially in flight by the computer, but that doesn't necessarily need to be a very complex process), versus in a car where you put the key in, press the start button (these are luxury cars we're talking about), and floor the gas. The ECU, climate control systems, multimedia stuff, etc. all need to provide a very, very simple control view to the driver.

    Not to mention, in an arguably more life-critical system such as a multi-million dollar jet plane, the code is reviewed, scrutinized, etc. almost obsessively. I would imagine there's not a lot of room for extraneous stuff, whereas in a car, they can add all the whizbang features they want.

  6. #6

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    Let's see? I can now run Windows XP in my car ? BTW developers, its quality not quantity!! It doesn't matter if there are 5 million lines of code, how long is the line? And does my future car have to take time to "boot up", check for updates, crash, reboot and tell me I have an invalid license code for the execution of this "premium content"? If we've learned one thing from Windows Vista, it's that customers don't like bull****. Look at the recall notices in that article, apparently there were several recall notices relating to software problems. For the last time, I don't live in my car and I don't need something that does the work my normal PC does? I don't host a HTTP server in my trunk. Keep it simple, not too simple and leave the software at home.

  7. #7
    MXmadman

    Default

    Even though automotive technology has come a long way in the past few years, I still like the way the old school cars ran. You could replace any part you want, and if you were running rich or running lean, you could tune the carb yourself and didn't have to deal with running rich or lean (and potentially damaging the engine) while the ECU "re-learned" the proper air/fuel ratio.

  8. #8

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    Well the is a big difference between industrial and personal computing. PLC's (programmable logic controller) are typically used to control things based on commands or sensory data and these boxes use fairly low level software. A meer 50 lines of code on a PLC can out perform modern personal computers when it comes to controlling hardware in the real world. However most PLC's can only be reprogrammed for minor application changes.

    An airplane like an Airbus would use a ton of high end PLC's, they always fly within parameters so the application never changes. Likewise an ECU is a similar beast to a PLC since engines don't magically change how many cylinders they have or how high the redline goes.

    Pleasure computing in vehicles are an entirely separate system but they can receive data from the ECU. Keyless entry and startup is actually a pretty dumb system, the radios/data modems handle encryption natively then its a simple micro that checks the ID and sends an OK signal to the ECU for starting the engine. With a modern car most of this will be on the same board or in the same processor however its all fairly low level.

  9. #9
    DannyTheNinja

    Default



    Quote Originally Posted by BabyKitty View Post
    Well the is a big difference between industrial and personal computing. PLC's (programmable logic controller) are typically used to control things based on commands or sensory data and these boxes use fairly low level software. A meer 50 lines of code on a PLC can out perform modern personal computers when it comes to controlling hardware in the real world. However most PLC's can only be reprogrammed for minor application changes.

    An airplane like an Airbus would use a ton of high end PLC's, they always fly within parameters so the application never changes. Likewise an ECU is a similar beast to a PLC since engines don't magically change how many cylinders they have or how high the redline goes.

    Pleasure computing in vehicles are an entirely separate system but they can receive data from the ECU. Keyless entry and startup is actually a pretty dumb system, the radios/data modems handle encryption natively then its a simple micro that checks the ID and sends an OK signal to the ECU for starting the engine. With a modern car most of this will be on the same board or in the same processor however its all fairly low level.
    This. I could not have stated it better myself.

    A couple of other things.

    Aviation is a HEAVILY regulated industry. The technology you see in an airplane today was on your desk 10 or more years ago. In order to make it into an airplane, that kind of code has to undergo ludicrous amounts of testing, usually some form of path testing that verifies every possible code path and its associated error handling. There's also, arguably, a lot more at stake regarding error handling - after all, it's a lot harder to recover from an error at 600mph and 37,000 feet in the air than 70mph on the ground.

    Aviation also traditionally relies on very analog instruments. When I went to flight camp there were no navigation computers, there was an altimeter, trim wheel and stick, and all of it was done with mechanics a 10-year-old could probably comprehend. Most pilots don't want or need the fancy-pants computer stuff, so it's currently limited to stuff like radar and communications.

    In addition, consumer features need a lot of code. Consider your WiFi router, an enterprise version of which is appearing on a lot of airplanes. If it's like other WiFi routers today, it probably runs the Linux kernel, which currently consists of about 12.6 million lines of code, although, to be fair, only about 30% of that - if even that much - will be included in a build that runs on an embedded system like that. Still that's 4-5 million lines, just for the kernel, not including the wireless supplicant software, administration interface, or network management software (dhcpd, dnsmasq, a captive portal solution).

    And finally, airplanes are likely to use completely different electronics - probably specially designed microcontroller boards that don't need that much code because the things they control are very direct and straightforward, e.g. send 5V to pin 12 to lower left aileron, and control is left to the pilot to deal with environmental variables. In contrast, the auto industry is pushing to have the car deal with as many environment variables as possible, because (many, not all) drivers are inherently dumb and incapable of deciding what to do in a tricky situation, like freezing rain on a highway where you're stuck in the left lane with a hotrod on your tail and there's a sharp curve coming up. Pilots spend years training specifically for sticky situations.

    So in short, airplanes = raw power, greater control, safer in the hands of an experienced operator; cars = less control, safer in the hands of a novice.



    Quote Originally Posted by iPlushie View Post
    Let's see? I can now run Windows XP in my car ? BTW developers, its quality not quantity!! It doesn't matter if there are 5 million lines of code, how long is the line? And does my future car have to take time to "boot up", check for updates, crash, reboot and tell me I have an invalid license code for the execution of this "premium content"? If we've learned one thing from Windows Vista, it's that customers don't like bull****. Look at the recall notices in that article, apparently there were several recall notices relating to software problems. For the last time, I don't live in my car and I don't need something that does the work my normal PC does? I don't host a HTTP server in my trunk. Keep it simple, not too simple and leave the software at home.
    You'll never see Windows running a car's core computer. I don't think any software engineer in their right mind would permit this. Windows's kernel is not built to handle that kind of real time computation, where low latency is a much higher priority than power. Windows also doesn't have the necessary facilities to disable core features like its entire networking stack. For a core computer, I would even second guess using Linux, in favor of dedicated, highly specialized and minimalist microcode built into a microcontroller. But the problem there is the budget: such electronics cost millions more to develop and fabricate than starting with an already established solution. So auto makers are probably going for Linux or VxWorks or something.

    Now (and I say this from the perspective of a devoted Linux user) you might some day end up with Windows running underneath the touch screen computer that replaces that primitive device we have now called a radio. However a radio and navigation system if properly designed can be almost completely separated from the core of a car. You could have your radar, GPS, navigation and music all controlled from one computer, and the only hookups it has to the rest of the car should be a power connection and links to necessary hardware (speakers, radar sensors, the antenna). Don't provide the electrical capability for that computer to send any signal or interference to the computers controlling the engine and movement. Or better yet, leave those to be mechanical. It's much cheaper to carry grease and a wrench in your trunk than a spare System Controller (part no. #FH9320940) rev. B3.

    --Danny

  10. #10

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    I'd rather they put more car in the car and less gadget. The electronic gadgetry is mostly for entertainment or emissions control.

    If I want a stereo or nav system, I can go to the local electronics warehouse and get a kick-ass system for less than half what the automakers charge.

    Thanks to government mandated emissions and safety requirements, cars weigh half a ton more than they should, and emissions controls kill gas mileage. Now that we've decided CO2 is a pollutant, it turns out that the emissions gadgets actually CAUSE more pollution than they cure, as well as waste immense quantities of fossil fuels.

    Then there's the additional cost and complexity of repair.

    I just wish I could buy a new 1989 Dodge Omni, or even a 1969 Beetle.

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