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Japanese Auto Makers Teaming Up To Create Standard OS 266

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the specialized-mechanics-heard-weeping dept.
CNet is reporting that Japanese car manufacturers are teaming up to develop a standard automotive operating system. "Just as computer operating systems [...] allow multiple applications to communicate with one another, an automotive operating system enables different driving systems to work together. The standard automotive operating system from Japan will include everything from fuel injection, brakes and power steering to power windows. Currently, certain mechanical car parts are interchangeable from model to model. Smart car parts that operate off a common software standard would enable that kind of convenience to continue, while allowing them to communicate more easily with other smart components in a car."
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Japanese Auto Makers Teaming Up To Create Standard OS

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  • Yeah? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 30, 2007 @02:30PM (#20045895)
    But will it run rinux?
  • by RollTissue (896833) * on Monday July 30, 2007 @02:30PM (#20045897)
    According to another Yomiuri [yomiuri.co.jp] article, BMW, DaimlerChrysler and other European automakers are jointly developing a next-generation OS and are expected to complete a prototype in 2008. ...a year earlier.
    • by Spazntwich (208070) on Monday July 30, 2007 @02:49PM (#20046219)
      And in keeping with cultural automotive tradition, the European computer will be faster, more expensive, sexier, and give you blowjobs when it's not too busy crashing, while the Japanese model will be reliable, affordable, efficient, and do little beyond transmogrifying your loan into tentacles and then proceeding to rape you with them.
    • by yog (19073) * on Monday July 30, 2007 @02:52PM (#20046277) Homepage Journal
      Well the Japanese pretty much dominate the world automotive market so it's likely that their standard will win eventually. Besides, if the OS they are developing is for Japanese systems, why would they even care if BMW and Daimler come up with one for their own cars, unless there's some competitive advantage to marketing the OS to other cars, like Windows on PC's. I don't see any advantage here; it's just a way to share development resources.

      • by Volante3192 (953645) on Monday July 30, 2007 @03:03PM (#20046431)
        I can just see the commercials now:

        "Hi, I'm a Mercedes."

        "And I'm a Toyota."

        (And it's all downhill from here. Apologies to Mercedes. Honestly, I have no clue about anything automotive, I just felt it was a good name to use.)
      • by Ngarrang (1023425)

        Well the Japanese pretty much dominate the world automotive market so it's likely that their standard will win eventually. Besides, if the OS they are developing is for Japanese systems, why would they even care if BMW and Daimler come up with one for their own cars, unless there's some competitive advantage to marketing the OS to other cars, like Windows on PC's. I don't see any advantage here; it's just a way to share development resources.

        And since nearly all of the Japanese makers are owned/merged/partnered with one of the big American automakers, that means Ford et al will immediately benefit from this research.

        • by cayenne8 (626475)
          "And since nearly all of the Japanese makers are owned/merged/partnered with one of the big American automakers, that means Ford et al will immediately benefit from this research."

          So, will the source code to the automobile OS be readable in english? (I'm assuming people in Japan who code program in Japanese?).

          Would be cool, though, if they got a more uniform OS in the cars...means it should be easier to hack into them, and figure out what makes a car 'tick'....and enable the user to more easily custom tu

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by red_dragon (1761)

            You don't need to wait for the auto manufacturers -- simply replace the stock ECU with a MegaSquirt [megasquirt.info] ECU, for which source code and schematics are available. You can buy a kit with all of the parts and the pre-programmed EEPROM, or you can buy a pre-assembled and pre-programmed from here [diyautotune.com] -- even plug-and-play wiring harnesses are available.

    • by nonsequitor (893813) on Monday July 30, 2007 @03:26PM (#20046759)
      Sounds like the Auto Industry is finally catching up to the avionics industry in this regard. The way avionics handled this issue was instead of releasing software, they released a set of requirements for a partitioned operating system. Then the specific vendor has to implement that template.

      Some of the features are a pre-emptable time slicing OS. It defines a number of application slots or partitions which are completely isloated from one another. Each partition then is assigned a quota or multiple quotas of CPU time. For instance 7 ms out of every 200 ms. Each partition is given control of its own resources, a set amount of RAM and Memory, mostly flash based.

      This development model allows multiple vendors to easily work together to provide industrial grade saftey critical systems. The OS and applications are independently certified for their class of application, and the OS would have a max level of certification allowed for it.

      While the automotive industry does not have the same certification issues the avionics industry has, I think this is a long over step towards consolidating all the distributed systems within a car. This makes higher level applications possible which link to the microprocessors controlling the brakes, suspension, all-wheel drive, etc...

      I don't think its out of the question to start seeing 3rd party software add-ons which can be installed on any car running this OS to provide enhanced capabilities like automatic parking like described in the article. It may even become possible to retrofit a car without one of these systems with the necessary sensors and equipment to add these new capabilities after market.

      This is where the boating industry is going at the moment since boats have a much longer life expectancy than cars, but they use a lot of the same microprocessors and communications buses.

      Needless to say, its going to be interesting to see what the hacking community can do with this.
      • by hal2814 (725639)
        "Some of the features are a pre-emptable time slicing OS. It defines a number of application slots or partitions which are completely isloated from one another. Each partition then is assigned a quota or multiple quotas of CPU time. For instance 7 ms out of every 200 ms. Each partition is given control of its own resources, a set amount of RAM and Memory, mostly flash based."

        What? They don't use lottery scheduling?
        • by xenocide2 (231786)
          I don't know much about avionics, but lottery scheduling sounds a bit too probabilistic to simulate or make any guarantees about deadlines. Lottery scheduling solves the problem of starvation, but priority in that system means more CPU time.

          In most control systems, you can pretty much determine how long it will take to run a job. They rarely feature complicated maths or recursions that might make prediction difficult, so giving a job more CPU than it needs won't do much but waste time and power. Instead the
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by BUL2294 (1081735)
        And why do we need this? BMW proved with their 5-Series a few years ago that an automotive OS is a bad idea. Seriously, how much cheaper could power windows (no pun intended) get??? What is wrong with the traditional "push button, complete circuit, window goes up" or "engine provides mechanical energy to run power steering"???

        Personally, I HATE this idea. Imagine having the "automotive OS" go down or a short somewhere in the system results in your brakes, windows, airbags, navigation system, cruise contr
        • by nonsequitor (893813) on Monday July 30, 2007 @05:35PM (#20049013)
          This should make the individual components cheaper allowing them to use cheaper micro-controllers. Cars are increasingly comprised of smart components which communicate electronically, as opposed to analog or mechanical signals.

          This means that the newer ECUs have a throttle command which is part of a message packet transmitted over a bus rather than a mechanical push/pull cable controlling the throttle lever on an engine. Even the engines that still have throttle levers aren't mechanical anymore, the lever is connected to a potentiometer which then converts the lever position into an analog signal which feeds into the ECU.

          Its the natural progression that distributed systems again become more consolidated. Remember that this network inside your car is going to be electrically isolated from other systems. The likelihood of anyone hacking your car without physical access to the microcontrollers is slim to none. Unless they do something stupid like try to network this OS with outside systems which aren't wired to it.
          • by DarenN (411219) on Monday July 30, 2007 @06:42PM (#20049795) Homepage

            This should make the individual components cheaper allowing them to use cheaper micro-controllers. Cars are increasingly comprised of smart components which communicate electronically, as opposed to analog or mechanical signals.
            Bing! This is what it's all about. The motor industry is a amorphous blob of highly competitive car makers (called OEM's) who buy from component manufacturers. As cars get more complicated more code is required (and as I work with this a bit, I can tell you it's a LOT of code). But it's on ECU's which have to work together in some odd combinations. Because you can order functionality (or not order it) in many ways per model of car, and most of it is software controlled, the communication between the components gets increasingly complicated. The component manufacturers responded by selling complete systems, which could be tested together and kludged for performance and all sorts of other stuff. The problem now is that these manufacturers have a lot of leverage, because if you want one component from them, you're stuck with a whole system.

            The international version of this is called AUTOSAR and is a 2,000 page specification that details the communication interfaces between ECU's. The ideal is that you could take an AUTOSAR compliant ECU and plug it into an AUTOSAR enabled car, and magically things will just work. It's still at the early stages despite it being around for years, and most of the major manufacturers are involved. They fight like cats and dogs, so this could be a splinter group of OEM's doing their own thing because they're sick of AUTOSAR.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by nonsequitor (893813)

              The component manufacturers responded by selling complete systems, which could be tested together and kludged for performance and all sorts of other stuff.

              I thought that was why they had standards like J1939 for CAN bus communications.

              The article mentions an OS, but it doesn't clarify how it will be used. It may just be an RTOS with standardized protocol stacks. Or it could be some sort of object engine considering how all those communications standards are object oriented. But if it's a centralized

    • If it's anything like iDrive, the Japs don't have anything to worry about.

      What did it take, 7 screens and 8 clicks to change the volume on the CD player on a BMW 7?
  • by WillAdams (45638) on Monday July 30, 2007 @02:34PM (#20045957) Homepage
    TRON is an embedded OS that Japan tried to use as a general-purpose desktop OS as well back in the late '80s, but was stopped from doing so by a Federal Government lawsuit claiming it was anti-competitive:

    http://www.tron.org/index-e.html [tron.org]

    Or is this an extension to TRON? (The article is really slim), though it seems to be about OSEK:

    http://www.osek-vdx.org/ [osek-vdx.org]

    William

  • by Sierpinski (266120) on Monday July 30, 2007 @02:34PM (#20045959)
    Microsoft has announced that it is partnering with a Japanese automaker to incorporate Windows Vista Auto Edition with all of their car systems.

    In other news, family of 4 dies as their Japanese car careens off of a cliff after experiencing a BSOD in their Microsoft Windows Vista Auto Edition software.
    • by Midnight Thunder (17205) on Monday July 30, 2007 @02:43PM (#20046103) Homepage Journal
      In other news, family of 4 dies as their Japanese car careens off of a cliff after experiencing a BSOD in their Microsoft Windows Vista Auto Edition software.

      Then again there was the other news piece where the driver was asked to authorize or deny the deployment of the air-bag, when he crashed into the lamp-post.
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Microsoft has announced that it is partnering with a Japanese automaker to incorporate Windows Vista Auto Edition with all of their car systems.

      Well, that would be one way to prop up the failing Detroit auto makers.

      All of a sudden, Japanese cars would be far less desirable (or reliable).

      Cheers
    • by FictionalAccount (1041822) on Monday July 30, 2007 @03:13PM (#20046561) Homepage Journal
      Dr. Sierpinski stepped back from the operating table to admire his handy-work. The stitching was complete, a meticulous and expertly done job. The electrodes were in place, and only administering the life giving elixir remained. Soon his work would be done, soon the world would see!

      "Igor!" he yelled, "Raise the table into position so we may begin the final stage!" His trusty yet somewhat dimwitted hunchback assistant complied, and slowly turned the crank that moved the operating table into a vertical position.

      The creature would stand seven feet tall and was stronger than an ox. His heart and lungs twice that of a normal man's allowing him to carry his massive size as if he were a sprinter. Lifting a cart above his head would be no difficult feat, and his advanced nervous system made him impervious to the jabs and barbs only his future profession could dish out.

      His physical prowess was outmatched only by his mental faculties. Dr. Sierpinski had spent years designing and building the biomechanic wonder (some would call monstrosity) that sat inside the creature's over sized skull. In it he had placed the knowledge and experience of all the worlds greats - Igor had been most helpful at gathering the necessary remains, scouring the globe and riding coach to boot. Burns, Marx, Pryor - almost every comedian who'd ever gotten a laugh was represented in the devilish clockwork of the creatures mind. Here truly would be someone that would show the world. Dr. Abraham "Giggles" Sierpinski would be laughed at no more...yes, truly, his creature...would be laughed _with_!

      The table clicked into place with a final clash. Far above the castle's dungeon laboratory thunder cracked from the approaching storm. "Now Igor, Now! Quickly, throw the switch!" Igor shuffled to the table and pulled the lever. A bright flash erupted as lighting struck the castle's tower and traveled through a series of wires to the creatures base.

      "Yes....Yes...YES! LIVE MY CREATURE! LIVE! LIVE AND MAKE THEM LAUGH!!!!"

      The lighting subsided, and the laboratory was suddenly quiet. The doctor held his breath. Quietly, almost a murmur escaped from the creatures lips.

      "...bsod..."

      "He speaks Igor, he speaks! Quickly! Release the straps! My creature, tell me, what are you trying to say?"

      "...mmmmrrchhc.......bsod....mrrrrrghhh.......mmmm rrrrg....Microsoft.....Mrrrrgh...Microsoft has announced that it is partnering with a Japanese automaker to incorporate Windows Vista Auto Edition with all of their car systems."

      "What?"

      "mrrrgh...mrrrrrrgh....In other news, family of 4 dies as their Japanese car careens off of a cliff after experiencing a BSOD in their Microsoft Windows Vista Auto Edition software."

      Igor helpfully chimed in with a boom-tsk from his laboratory drum set.

      "WHAT! What was that? That...that...that wasn't even funny! How...how could this be? My creature, the reanimated flesh of dead humor itself...its not even funny!" He sank to the ground in despair. "How...how could I have been so wrong! Where did I fail? Where did I fail?"

      The creature lifted its massive head, "I for one welcome...mrrrrgh...I for one welcome our failed humor overlord....ggggggahhahghg"

      Dr. Sierpinksi ran from the laboratory, from his monster, clawing his eyes and hair, and wailing into the depths of the night.
      • by gbjbaanb (229885)
        love it. You forgot that the creature was designed with bits of Natalie Portman however.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      It would have been funnier with

      'you are trying to avoid the cliff by drastically turning the wheel: allow or deny.....:\
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by icydog (923695)
      Fitting, since 90% of BSODs are caused by faulty drivers!
  • "We don't want you tinkering with the cars you buy from us."
  • Oblig. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by spankey51 (804888) on Monday July 30, 2007 @02:36PM (#20045987)
    "The wonderful thing about standards is that there are so many of them..."
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Can someone explain this article to me using a car analogy?
  • This topic sounds very interesting, but I just can't face this thread and the millions of "if Microsoft made cars" [planetamd64.com] jokes that I'm sure are coming.
  • car os != desktop os (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SolusSD (680489) on Monday July 30, 2007 @02:40PM (#20046049) Homepage
    I really hope they don't go the "OS for battleships" direction and just take a regular OS and tailor it for cars. An OS that is going to help operate a car should be built using signal logic and work like a low level state machine. Like this: http://www.rebelscience.org/Cosas/COSA.htm [rebelscience.org] or at least build it around a functional lambda calculus based language like haskell or erlang (see wikipedia). The last thing we need is random segfaults while we're driving.

    as an aside-- please don't critize my suggestion without at least first reading up on functional lambda calculus based programming languages and COSA.
    • what happens when you need to check two lambda expressions for equivalence? For something simple like continuing to supply power to any of the mechanical components?
    • by jd (1658)
      Oh, there's no shortage of choices. There'd be even more, if Inmos hadn't been sold off and their chips relegated to video recorders. Lambda calculus is fine, pi-calculus is also good. ISO/IEC 13568:2002 would be most desirable. In fact, anything amenable to formal quality control would be good.

      If a desktop-ish OS were to be used, LynxOS (a Linux offshoot that has some respectable avionics certification) would not be a bad choice. I'd be a little concerned about vanilla Linux, but if you stuck to the bett

    • by suv4x4 (956391)
      I really hope they don't go the "OS for battleships" direction and just take a regular OS and tailor it for cars.

      What's the point of "hoping" they don't do something they aren't doing anyway. They don't put Ubuntu in your car, don't worry.

      I hope they won't use Widows Vista! I hope I won't have to power up my car and then wait 5 minutes for it to boot!
      • by SolusSD (680489)
        waht makes you think they won't use a desktop OS? windows NT runs British battleships.
    • Windows Automotive is Microsoft's entry into the car OS field. Its not XP or Vista based, but based on Windows CE, pretty much a totally different OS (intended for embedded use), only sharing the name Windows.

      IMHO, its not too bad, Windows CE is maturing and is standing up well to the test of time, so Windows Automotive 5.0 shouldn't be as bad as people think. However, time will tell. Also, Windows Automotive doesn't appear to be for the critical controls of a car (if stuff is drive-by-wire), but more fo
  • Its been done (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BitZtream (692029) on Monday July 30, 2007 @02:40PM (#20046053)
    Its already been done by others, hell even microsoft made some Windows CE modifications to make it automobile friendly. This is really only useful if they all actually USE the same protocols across the board. If everyone comes in and makes their own unique way of controlling each individual component it won't be real helpful.
  • At one time i was afraid they should take some general purpose OS and cram into cars.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 30, 2007 @02:45PM (#20046139)
    A mechanical engineer, an electrical engineer, and a software engineer are driving along when they start heading downhill. The brakes go out, and as the passengers panic, the driver manages to just barely swing the car to safety, narrowly averting a short trip off of a tall cliff.

    With the car stopped, the engineers all get out and discuss what must have gone wrong.

    The mechanical engineer says "we must have lost a brake line or something."

    The electrical engineer suggests there was a problem with the ABS system.

    The software engineer suggests they all drive back up the hill and go back down to see if it happens again.

    The Slashdotter tied up in the trunk mumbles "I, for one, eagerly await our new standard OS overlords."
  • Currently? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Himring (646324) on Monday July 30, 2007 @02:46PM (#20046151) Homepage Journal
    Currently, certain mechanical car parts are interchangeable from model to model.

    Currently? Back in my teens, in the 80s, I hung out with a family that built street machines. There used to be this company called GMC and it had others called Chevrolet and Pontiac, et al. We could take a bell housing off a 66 Pontiac whatever and fit it perfectly to a 68 Chevrolet whatever. ALL water thermostat housings between all of these makes were the same. I can remember helping my dad with his 69 Ford Bronco to replace a cracked thermostat housing, and when we went to the junkyard the dude pulls out a huge box of ford thermostat housings -- even between Ford cars they were different. You could fit a Nova front-end to a Ventura and all the bolts matched. Anyone toying around with American cars from the 60s learned to love the GMs, especially Chevys....

    GMCs, and especially Chevys, from the 60s, were God's gift to cars and auto mechanics and it was all interchangeable. Couple this with the raw power of those cars (yes yes, environment concerns and all that) and those are some of the best memories of my life....

    Hehe, currently.... Reminds me of my daughter saying, "way back in the 90s...."

    • Re:Currently? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by 0100010001010011 (652467) on Monday July 30, 2007 @02:59PM (#20046373)
      You think Americans were "good" Germans have the standardization of things down pat.

      It's why HPA motorports was able to create a 500 Hp Beetle [motortrend.com] using nothing more than common VW Parts.

      With minor work for engine bay space and engine mounts, you can bolt up a brand new Audi TT engine to a '79 Rabbit. I can't even begin to name all the parts that are common between my '98 Jetta and my '86 Jetta. Heck, 10 minutes with the engine blocks and you'll start to see similarities between the 1.8L Gasser and my 1.9 TDI.

      Furthermore, every single part in my VW has a part number. Every one. I'm doing some custom wiring for rear fogs, even a wire has a VW part number. I walked into the dealer and told him I wanted XXX-YYY-ZZZZ and he told me it'd be a few days and $3. If anyone gets a chance to look in ETKA, there is an option to "see what all vehicles this part number fits". It's absolutely mind boggling.
      • by Himring (646324)
        Oh yea!

        Pinks!?!

      • by Anonymous Coward
        This happened in Phoenix, Arizona.

        Many years ago, when I was in college and poor, I bought a truly beat to death VW Baja for $800. It had tiny little wheels for drag racing for some odd reason, and great big sand wheels up front. The front end and the back end were fiberglass, with all the sheet metal cut off roughly with a torch; the front bumper was, I kid you not, the GAS TANK. I had to buy some new seat belts out of a wrecked beetle to bolt in because the originals had been cut out. The car sounded lik
      • Re:Currently? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by MaWeiTao (908546) on Monday July 30, 2007 @03:43PM (#20047005)

        Furthermore, every single part in my VW has a part number.


        That's not unique to VW. Practically every automaker today has a part number for every last component in their cars. Among other things I can find out which components are shared with previous generations of my Honda, other Honda models and even Japanese domestic models by looking at part numbers. The same applies to my father's Buick.

        Secondly, an Audi TT engine isn't just going to "bolt" into a 1979 Rabbit. Today's Rabbit follows a very similar layout to a '79 Rabbit and a TT is essentially a Golf/Rabbit with different body panels. I'll grant you that, but internally the cars are quite different. Nevermind that the chassis has been revised numerous times to meet exceedingly strict safety standards. There are changing emissions regulations which have necessitated the addition of various components and movement of others. Then there's the modernization of a multitude of other components, like the braking system and it's anti-lock brakes. Then there's the ECU and all the electrical wiring the old Rabbit didn't have. And then on the simplest level there's the fact that the '79 engine block and transmission are considerably different from what's used today.

        I know some guys tend to stretch the meaning of "bolt-on" modifications but this is really pushing it. There are guys who do engine swaps between cars based on the same platform and for the same year and even then they can't just drop in the new engine. If any automakers allow for easy swapping of components I'd argue it's the Americans. And that's only because they have the habit of releasing the same exact vehicle under multiple brands with minor cosmetic differences.

        I expect to see a similar outcome from a "standardized" OS. The system may be based on a standard base, but every model and generation will be different to the point that they won't work with anyone else. There's the risk, of course, of this sort of technology locking out the owner from being able to do anything to the car. With a sophisticated system it could check to see if modifications have been made, for example, and perhaps render the vehicle inoperable because it's been deemed a violation of the warranty. On the other hand, these systems may make the car easier to hack and allow the owner more control in adjusting how the car operates.
        • Secondly, an Audi TT engine isn't just going to "bolt" into a 1979 Rabbit. Today's Rabbit follows a very similar layout to a '79 Rabbit and a TT is essentially a Golf/Rabbit with different body panels. I'll grant you that, but internally the cars are quite different. Nevermind that the chassis has been revised numerous times to meet exceedingly strict safety standards. There are changing emissions regulations which have necessitated the addition of various components and movement of others. Then there's the modernization of a multitude of other components, like the braking system and it's anti-lock brakes. Then there's the ECU and all the electrical wiring the old Rabbit didn't have. And then on the simplest level there's the fact that the '79 engine block and transmission are considerably different from what's used today.

          And that's why I left it at "bolt into". I didn't say run in tip top condition. The 4 speed manual transmission was finally obsoleted in 2005 or 2006 when VW redesigned it. The 5 speeds have been more or less a bolt on, you can clearly see it when working on the 5 speeds.

          Second, I could be mistaken, but I believe that there is only one engine mount that needs to be fabricated. Other than that, yes it is a bolt up. Bellhousing is common so are engine mounts, etc. Again, I never said anything about runinn

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DerekLyons (302214)

        With minor work for engine bay space and engine mounts, you can bolt up a brand new Audi TT engine to a '79 Rabbit. I can't even begin to name all the parts that are common between my '98 Jetta and my '86 Jetta. Heck, 10 minutes with the engine blocks and you'll start to see similarities between the 1.8L Gasser and my 1.9 TDI.

        It's fascinating that you start out raving how 'common' things are, but when you get down to cases... engine mounts need 'minor' work and engine blocks have 'similarities'. Niether

      • by Himring (646324)
        Good stuff, but I'm talking 1960s and that this was going on way back. Also, and I didn't mean to get into a d*ck size competition over power, but com'on. You could factory order a 500 hp Chevelle or Camaro in the late 60s/1970 -- did you get that? Factory! That VW you link is tricked out. Very interesting that it's done with factory parts, but it appears they went through some hoops to get there.

        Of course, tricking a 450/500HP Chevy was cinch and going near 1000HP street has been done for decades w
    • by ArhcAngel (247594)
      OK maybe I am missing something but the article is talking about separate companies working together for a common goal not one company with numerous brands selling the same car (Pontiac Firebird == Chevy Camaro) with only the slightest cosmetic differences. American auto manufacturers do not work together (unless they are forced to) Having worked for an authorized AC Delco re-manufacturing shop I can attest to the fact they deliberately designed in bogus circuitry to try and prevent one of their Japanese pa
    • Yes, currently, as opposed to "in this possible future where electronics are more integrated." It's not claiming to be a recent development that mechanical parts are sometimes interchangeable.
  • "Currently, certain mechanical car parts are interchangeable from model to model. Smart car parts that operate off a common software standard would enable that kind of convenience to continue, while allowing them to communicate more easily with other smart components in a car."

    I would bet this is more likely:

    To prevent newer and compatible parts from working in older systems to force you to upgrade your whole vehicle.

    Maybe they are catching on that we're catching on that all they offer from year to y

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by waterm (261542)

      To prevent newer and compatible parts from working..
      Not likely. These companies run service organizations that are stuck maintaining their vehicles for years, it is in their best interest if everything plays nice together. It saves them money if the same service part can be used across many model years and vehicle platforms.
  • by RandoX (828285) on Monday July 30, 2007 @02:50PM (#20046233)
    Ha ha, crash? Crash? Get it? I think I'll punch myself in the face so that I can sleep through the next few retards that respond with the same lame ass joke.
  • by GreenEnvy22 (1046790) on Monday July 30, 2007 @02:51PM (#20046257)
    If we can get all the cars to use a common language, doing diagnostics could be made much easier. OBD2 that all cars sold in North America currently have, can be useful, but is quite limited in what it can do.
    • Screw OBD2. It's $100 or more for the simplest code readers I've been able to find, and even OBD2 allows much better diagnostic data . . . if you wheel out the $5,000 "professional" diagnostic tester. Here's an idea for a better OBD2: USB.

      I'd love to never again have to drive my malfunctioning car through traffic after work to the nearest auto parts store just to get the damn code causing the check engine light so their incompetent staff can try to sell me parts I don't need. I'd much rather plug in m

      • by rikkards (98006)
        You should google your car and see if there is a way to get the code number. My 2003 Jeep Liberty would display the code if you did something in the odometer(can't remember what it was off the top of my head) which you could google. Ended up being a loose gas cap. Now to figure out how to get the Check Engine light to stop displaying
        • Try disconnecting the negative battery cable for an hour or two. This clears the codes on my vehicle. If it comes back, then you probably have another problem beyond a loose gas cap. Alternately, you can take it to most auto parts stores and they can clear the code for you for free.

          But more than that, I want more than just the code. I know there are OBD2-Laptop cable and software solutions that allow one to monitor engine performance. For example, the fuel-air mixture might be running too rich or too

  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Monday July 30, 2007 @02:54PM (#20046305)
    ...only if there's a button on the steering wheel that transforms the car into a 20 foot tall battle robot. Or a sexbot. Or both. At the same time.

    The Toyota Unicron. Yeah, yeah, gimme some of that.

    Main competitor? The Kia GoBot.

    Ha ha ha ha! Go-bots....
  • This will make chipping easier, the firmware in some cars is restricted for various reasons. Often it's a compromise of all the regulations for each country where it is sold.
  • Thought almost ALL cars around the world used VxWorks for their embedded systems.
  • by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes AT xmsnet DOT nl> on Monday July 30, 2007 @03:26PM (#20046767)
    An annoying side-effect of all the electronics in current cars is that it's become impossible to replace the sound system (or at least the head unit): all too often, the head unit is linked to the satnav display, and on more expensive cars, the stereo is a main interface element for the entire car (BMW iDrive and similar systems). Also, the HU is built into the dashboard, instead of being in a DIN slot.
    This means you're stuck with the limited quality and features of the headunit, and adding things like an amplifier, CD changer, MP3 player and extra speakers (e.g. a subwoofer) are hard or impossible.

    With a standard OS, it should be possible to separate the head unit from the rest of the car, and still use the HU to interface with the car.
    • Why is the stereo even hooked up the rest of the car?
      Some day a DRM cd or mp3 file may end up crashing your car and that may take steering, brakes, windows, door locks, ac / heat and more with it.

      There was this car with iDrive that had a os crash and the windows needed to broken to get out of the hot car.
    • It's not all bad (Score:4, Interesting)

      by daBass (56811) on Monday July 30, 2007 @07:00PM (#20050013)
      For those of us that happen to be happy with the stereo that came with the car, the upside is no more having to take the thing apart and hide it every time you leave the car somewhere and no more smashed windows and some wires hanging out of your dash when you come back to it...

      I, for one, welcome our new fully integrated un-steal-able car stereo overlords!
  • I can see every major component being connected with a TCP/IP stack. Everyone can write whatever calls they want to be available & manufacturers could choose the ones they want.

    However I can also see the case (of my 1996 Mitsubishi Eclipse spyder) that I can't get through inspection because it won't complete a drive cycle... (For example: I have to cold start, then drive at 60MPH without sloshing the fuel for the EVAP test. Considering I live in the middle of a city & have to drive 20min before hit
  • by Ropati (111673) on Monday July 30, 2007 @04:10PM (#20047503)
    It is great that the software in cars will be standardized, but how about the driving experience.

    I drive different rental cars every week and I am amazed at how dissimilar the controls are.

    I suggest that the automakers, or our government, make the controls and indicators for:
    gear shifter, emergency brake, lights, turn signals, wipers, speedometer, fuel gauge, pedals, gas cap, side mirrors, window controls, emergency flasher, panel dimmer, power locks and cruise control, standardized on all cars.

    How many accidents have occurred because the driver was looking for or trying to use a control incorrectly.
  • There was talk a while back about Ford using embedded Windows for managing engine functions and other operational systems in the vehicle (with the exception of the most critical parts, although that was not clear from reports). I don't know if they actually decided to follow through with it, but if they did then that would be yet another blow to the quality of the American automobile against the Japaneses and European makes. It is probably better that they (the Japanese auto makers) are developing this OS f
  • by Whuffo (1043790) on Monday July 30, 2007 @05:20PM (#20048777) Homepage Journal
    All current passenger vehicles are equipped with a computer system that handles engine management, transmission control, body control, and more. Some of the current implementations are amazing; multiple processors communicating over a high-speed network, etc.

    By law, they have to support OBD2 diagnostics; this spec provides a limited number of diagnostic indicators that (theoretically) can be accessed and interpreted the same on all vehicles. The OBD2 spec is even available - not officially, but Google is your friend.

    So far so good - some standardization, albeit government enforced. But there's more; there's a lot more useful diagnostic information available from the vehicle systems than OBD2 shows. So the manufacturers extend the protocol and define other trouble codes and ways of accessing them. These extensions aren't documented, and they're often designed to be as obscure and impenetrable as possible. Every manufacturer has different proprietary extensions and they change them at whim.

    The dealership service departments have the dedicated computer that talks to that manufacturer's cars; it knows all the codes. But independent service shops don't have those dedicated machines or any information about how to read the extended codes from a vehicle. The manufacturers refuse to provide any information to anyone at any price; you can't even buy the diagnostic machine from them unless you're one of their dealers.

    They've been doing this for years; various lawsuits have come and gone but the manufacturers still won't share the information that mechanics need to service their cars effectively. The manufacturers like it this way; it drives more business to the dealership service departments and prevents third-party parts companies from making less-expensive replacement parts. This is the status quo; even the Japanese manufacturers play the same game.

    So let's consider the possibility of a standardized automotive operating system or architecture. Would the manufacturers use it? If it offered greater reliability or reduced build costs they'd go for it. But before it hit the dealers they'd "fix" it so that their parts and service divisions would continue to enjoy their competitive advantages...

  • Why do this? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nurb432 (527695) on Monday July 30, 2007 @07:24PM (#20050247) Homepage Journal
    Really, why would different manufacturers want to make things more interoperable? This would in the long run reduce the need to buy particular brands, especially for repair parts, and cut into thir bottom lines.

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