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daisha asked “what are some advantages and disadvantages of computerised cars?”

October 18, 2006

Hi daisha. Thanks for your comment-question.

The simplest car computers calculate your average speed and fuel consumption and miles to empty tank. It needs sensors for speed, amount of fuel in the tank and rate of flow of fuel into the engine.

My car is quite old but not untypical of modern high performance cars. It has sensors for the temperature, pressure and oxygen content of the air intake and its rate of flow plus several others. The computer can adjust the fuel/air mixture and engine timing to suit conditions and even the octane rating of the fuel in use. ABS uses sensors to detect the speed of individual wheels to release the brake which is causing it to lock up and cause a skid. Other sensors detect the mode of driving; fast acceleration or cornering will stiffen up the suspension.

Most computer systems in cars are to make its engine more efficient, to make your driving safer or to provide information. If they go wrong you may have major or minor problems and expense. However, in general, simple (dedicated/embedded) computers have a very long life compared to mechanical components in a device. They don’t wear out or need servicing.  [The drive mechanism in my video recorder is faulty but I’m sure the electronics are fine, for instance.]

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