UFO? No, it is just my BMW!
Today in 2008, a high end vehicle such as a BMW, Benz or Lexus can have over 70 ECU’s, (electronic control units.) These are tied to a substantial number of sensors and 5 or so networked protocols. As the demand for advanced safety features, improving mpg and emissions, and constant connectivity, the electronics in your BMW are only going to increase at what will seem like warp speed! Note: In 1996 the typical vehicle had only 6 or ECU’s.
There is some debate in the automotive engineering world; A centralized “intelligence” unit, (with higher performance capabilities), that would gather data throughout the vehicle, vs. adding more, (and more), processors throughout the vehicle? Mmmm….what a choice. There is also a fairly new standardization, AUTOSAR, capability for interfacing software with hardware, that hopefully will help keep the price tag of these futuristic technologies affordable in the design and manufacturing.
Of course, the Advanced Active Safety technologies are going to be increasing in vehicles at most levels. More ECU’s, thousands of ECU’s?
We are getting closer to the Jestson’s protocol everyday! Well, it’s not called the Jetson protocol, but maybe it should be.