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Old 1st December 2022, 09:16   #1
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Software-centric automobiles | Boon or Bane?

The Economist seems to think the latter.

https://www.economist.com/business/2...e-car-industry

I beg to disagree, as the lower standards (no offense to the software developers on this forum), tolerance for bugs and early learning release mentality of the software sector is not really appropriate for a product like automobiles, which hold the lives of their passengers and those around them in their hands (mixed metaphor, I know).

Not to mention how this will eventually take away the pleasure us drivers get from direct interaction with our vehicles.

Last edited by Mustang Sammy : 1st December 2022 at 09:19. Reason: minor edit
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Old 1st December 2022, 09:58   #2
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re: Software-centric automobiles | Boon or Bane?

I am not going to get into the discussion on whether a computer can optimise efficiency and improve safety as compared to a human.

My take is, I would rather drive a fully human controlled vehicle than let some software control part of it.

I once saw a movie/TV serial where the assassin hacks into a car and disables the brakes at an opportune moment.

I doubt I have enemies who would send an assassin behind me (ok maybe one of my ex perhaps) but no thanks. The dumber the vehicle, the higher my safety.
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Old 1st December 2022, 12:20   #3
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re: Software-centric automobiles | Boon or Bane?

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Originally Posted by RedTerrano View Post
The dumber the vehicle, the higher my safety.
So no airbags or ABS for you?
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Old 1st December 2022, 12:37   #4
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re: Software-centric automobiles | Boon or Bane?

Whether we like it or not, every car that's rolled out of production has an ECU which is software programmed. Those days of pure mechanical cars which used cables and linkages are all gone. So its now a software which controls how much fuel is to be sent to the combustion chamber based on a combination of inputs from a throttle sensor and a MAPS sensor. A modern automobile is a complicated array of sensors and actuators liked together by a control software.

The problem, IMO is only when this system malfunctions and the car starts behaving like an uncontrolled Zombie robot. So I am all in favor of a big red Manual Override button which returns complete control to the driver in case of emergencies so at least he/she can park it to the side of the road.
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Old 1st December 2022, 12:48   #5
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re: Software-centric automobiles | Boon or Bane?

Noob regarding software stuff, but I am always wary of automobiles capable of communicating over the air/ remotely.

Even if the car itself is loaded with software, I am okay if it is a closed system and is not able to connect with anything outside unless one physically connects to the ECU/ECM.

Ofcourse, there will always be the dangling of safety that advocates will use to justify Over the Air communications and car-to-car communication stuffs.
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Old 1st December 2022, 13:55   #6
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re: Software-centric automobiles | Boon or Bane?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mustang Sammy View Post
The Economist seems to think the latter.

https://www.economist.com/business/2...e-car-industry
This is definitely the future and will be a boon. Just like world over people have flocked to automatic transmission, there will be a gradual change on other aspects of driving as well. Initially purists and enthusiasts will resist whereas the mass market will adopt it. But eventually, it will become a no-brainer just like automatic transmission has become today.
We already have started relinquishing control of important things through adaptive cruise and ADAS becoming mainstream. It's a long way to go. But it's not a matter of if but when.

Last edited by warrioraks : 1st December 2022 at 13:56.
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Old 1st December 2022, 19:31   #7
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re: Software-centric automobiles | Boon or Bane?

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Originally Posted by Jeroen View Post
So no airbags or ABS for you?
I have no problem with them, in fact I definitely welcome them. Way I look at it, these are reactive and do not directly interfere with my driving.

What I find scary is the computer making decisions on my behalf with me having no control over them.
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Old 2nd December 2022, 00:30   #8
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re: Software-centric automobiles | Boon or Bane?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedTerrano View Post
I have no problem with them, in fact I definitely welcome them. Way I look at it, these are reactive and do not directly interfere with my driving.

What I find scary is the computer making decisions on my behalf with me having no control over them.
Both airbags and ABS are computer controlled and you have no control over them.

E.g. airbag response time is speed dependent. The computer gets input from a deceleration sensor and calciteís at which point in time the airbag deployment needs to be triggered. If you have side airbags it looks at several different sensor to decide for you which airbags need to deploy when.

You have no control over ABS either. ABs works less reliable at low speeds, so it is inhibited below a certain speed threshold, but even just above the threshold, depending on the situation, ABS might work less, than regular braking.

If you donít know how ABS works, or rather needs to used, you will increase braking distance considerably. If you lift your foot of the brake whilst the ABS is active, it will de-activate, brake pads will be momentarily lifted before being employed again. ABS modulation tends to be speed dependent as well, sometimes some other factor as well.

so this is a system that is programmed to do help you during hard (emergency) braking. And whilst you keep your foot firmly on the brake pedal it will do its job nicely, fully autonomously from you. Lift momentarily or hit a wet/icey patch with one tire and all bets are off.

If you have a car with an ECU it does a bunch of stuff that you canít influence, from applying the automatic choke, to advancing the ignition timing, disconnecting the AC etc. Etc.

CAr electronics and software or programmable functions have been around for at least 4-5 decades. My fourth year old Mercedes W123 with a carburator engine came standard, with electronic ignition and advancing of the timing.

My almost as old Alfa Spider has two computer already, Bosch L-Tropic system. Controls ignition and injection.

The main problem as I see it, people get stuck in the past. Few people could properly set up and tune a carburateur, few people can properly work on car electronics. By and large, more and more electronics have made cars more reliable and safer. All data from insurers lease companies and breakdown services show the same trend.

But people keep bitching on how you could repair an old proper car with a paperclip. And you canít with modern cars. You need a laptop. Thatís just what progress is like. Those that donít keep up, e.g. mechanics, will ultimately be without a job.

I love old classic cars and modern ones. Currently we own four classics and one modern one. But for my daily drive I need something reliable and comfortable, which means the more electronic the better by and large.

The modern car migh need a laptop if it breaks down, but to date it never has. Whereas the number of times I need to resort to not just paperclips, but a boot full of tools on my old cars is substantial.

Jeroen
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Old 2nd December 2022, 04:43   #9
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re: Software-centric automobiles | Boon or Bane?

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedTerrano View Post
What I find scary is the computer making decisions on my behalf with me having no control over them.
I have a seat belt cutter, and window breaking hammer tool in all my cars including Model 3. Preparation for the worst outcome, would often quell the fears.
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Old 4th December 2022, 08:48   #10
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Re: Software-centric automobiles | Boon or Bane?

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Originally Posted by RedTerrano View Post
The dumber the vehicle, the higher my safety.
I think the aviation industry has shown that this absolutely not true. It is the same for cars too - hence the emphasis on things like automated emergency braking.
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Old 4th December 2022, 08:54   #11
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Re: Software-centric automobiles | Boon or Bane?

ďBoon or Bane?ď - Sorry to say but the question itself is somewhat wrong. It incorrectly assumes that the answer is a simple and clear right or wrong, black or white, etc. Nothing in life is that clear cut and bucketable (is that even a word?).

As others have mentioned even basic (for today) and unquestionably life saving things like ABS and airbags have some amount of software control. So itís not all bad.

On the other hand we have AC temperature controls buried under a few layers of touchscreen menus. So itís not all good.

Therefore the real question should be ďwhere do we draw the line between boon and baneĒ.
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Old 4th December 2022, 08:58   #12
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Re: Software-centric automobiles | Boon or Bane?

Mixed bag I suppose (for me). I have a 2019 Tacoma that is, by my standards at least, incredibly modern, and has a ton of features I don't know about, and really never will (yes, I still haven't even gone over all the available features on my touchscreen after nearly 4 years of ownership because I don't care about it).

However, it's great to have a reliable offroading 4x4 that will start up immediately in -15 Celsius, and which I know will not strand me up a rocky mountain road, which actually happened in my previous vehicle which was a 1975 Jeep Wagoneer. That being said, for 6 months of the year I drive an old muscle car that has absolutely no electronics, no nanny controls, no airbags, no ABS, and no ECM. And I love it. If I could drive that all year I would, without a second thought to the lack of any electronics or safety measures.
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Old 4th December 2022, 09:46   #13
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Re: Software-centric automobiles | Boon or Bane?

Too much reliance on electronics / internet as can be seen with many cars going smartphone way, headaches in reliability will be directly proportional to it. Another point I see or can infer with maximizing usage or making the cars go smarter is to reduce or discourage customers using FNGs in near future.

The reason I say this is because, I saw a post of a BMW customer on this forum who had mentioned their car holds data of the service interval and it can only be reset after customer gets the car serviced at ASS! So while softwares makes it all nice, it carries it's own disadvantages with it.
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Old 4th December 2022, 11:34   #14
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Re: Software-centric automobiles | Boon or Bane?

Planes can take off, fly and land on autopilot nowadays. But will you continue to sit in your seat after boarding, before the gates close, if there is an announcement that says, "good morning, ladies and gentlemen, this is your autopilot speaking, my name is Matrix 3.2.1.0.0.2 patch, and I will the captain for your trip this morning".

That probably has the answer to the topic. We want objective decisions (how much timing advance angle for this throttle position and this much load on crank) to be made by machines, but subjective decisions (there is too much fog, shall I slow down to 40kph, instead of driving at 60kph?) we still want to be made by humans.

Last edited by venkyhere : 4th December 2022 at 11:49.
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Old 4th December 2022, 11:45   #15
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Re: Software-centric automobiles | Boon or Bane?

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Originally Posted by venkyhere View Post

That probably has the answer to the topic. We want objective decisions (how much timing advance angle for this throttle position and this much load on crank) to be made by machines, but subjective decisions (there is too much fog, shall I slow down to 40kph, instead of driving at 60kph?) we still want to be made by humans.
When technology progresses, more and more subjective decisions will become objective decisions. What you mentioned as an objective decision was a subjective decision years back. Now autopilot has taken it over. I don’t think the second one is a subjective decision, but even if it is , the subjectivity will transform itself to objectivity when the autopilot systems becomes more mature. Lot of these objective decisions were once considered subjective decisions that only human can take. Machines provide repeatable decisions. A bad hangover from previous day or the pressure to catch the return leg to get home quicker cannot affect their decisions. That why I believe at some point of time, I will prefer a plane to be controlled by a machine than a human being.

Last edited by padmrajravi : 4th December 2022 at 11:52.
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