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Technology

Nissan Exhibits IEEE 1394-Compatible Car 221

Dirak writes "High-speed IEEE 1394 optical fiber networks have gone off-road with new Nissan's prototype vehicle demonstrated this year's at 11th World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems. The prototype is equipped with 7 cameras on the body and a 12-inch LCD monitor in the front and another in the rear seat area. Thanks to the in-vehicle IEEE 1394 LAN, which is capable of high-speed communications at 400Mbps via optical cable, the front and the rear seat monitors can display various information simultaneously, for example. The application of optical fiber also means that the weight of the cables can be reduced to about one-half the weight of a conventional wiring harness."
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Nissan Exhibits IEEE 1394-Compatible Car

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  • $1 says... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by NanoGator ( 522640 )
    ... somebody will get modded up for making an 'insightful' point about how impractical it is for whatever oversimplified reason.
    • Re:$1 says... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ExtremeGoatse! ( 778447 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @09:24PM (#10627822) Homepage Journal
      Actually, it is a very practical car. The optical fiber used in place of wiring allows the weight of the cables to be reduced to about half of the weight of wires. Think of all the wiring that is in the typical automobile. If we can replace auto wiring with optical fiber, saving over 100 lbs in ecah car, just think of the increased fuel savings! Some of the ideas that start in concept cars end up being very useful in everyday applications.
      • Yes, but now let us compare cost. Also, fibre needs more plastic (or similar) coating just to make it visible, yet alone workable.
      • it doesn't work very well. you get a break in this cable anywhere along its length and you'll probably end up stripping out all fibre and replacing it all. it's very difficult to track down the break if you can't see it - even the specialist testing tools that bounce light off the break and measure time/distance are only accurate to 10 feet or so - not much use in a wiring loom hidden behind the dash.
        next time you have a fender bender you could end up rewiring your car...!
      • Hey 100 lbs per car, that should almost enough to offset the extra weight caused by overweight Americans sitting inside the car! No more low carb for me, pass the Twinkies.

      • I'd be more impressed if they can solve the problem where some wire hidden inside a structural member breaks and renders half the electrical devices in the vehicle inoperable, requiring a $500 fishing expedition to find and repair it.

        (A good start would be to get rid of all the designers who think that making all wires and fasteners as inaccessible as humanly possible is the acme of engineering.)
    • ...You will get moderated down instead.

  • Big Wow. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 25, 2004 @09:17PM (#10627762)
    I mean, seriously, whats so special?

    Optical in a car? So? We've had cables in a car for quite some time. We've had monitors in a car for quite some time. We've even had internet in a car for quite some time. Whats so special?

    We've moved to communicating 1394 with light wires?? Hurray.

    No offense, but why is this "stuff that matters"?? Or is it just "news for nerds"?
    • Re:Big Wow. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Digital_Quartz ( 75366 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @09:25PM (#10627830) Homepage
      The article is quite light on details; is it just video sent over the firewire link, or is all car data sent by firewire? If it's the later, this could be quite an improvement. If you've ever had to pull out and reinstall a wiring harness, then you know you average car has 8 bazillion wires in it, all of which are unlabeled aside from some obscure color code. A single firewire jack on everything that needs data would be WAY nicer...

      Of course, I doubt you could pull the requisite 15W to power brake lights from a firewire port. :P
      • Re:Big Wow. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Ark42 ( 522144 ) <[ten.erawtfossuehprom] [ta] [todhsals]> on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:22PM (#10628138) Homepage


        http://www.dansdata.com/drivedocks.htm [dansdata.com] claims up to 60W can be pulled over firewire.
      • by davidwr ( 791652 )
        When it comes to operational and safety components, I want things on their own subsystems. That means one set of wires for the brake lights, one set of wires for antilock brake control, one set of wires for the fuel tank level indicator, etc. etc.

        If something gets in the wiring, I'd rather it knock out half my electrical than all of it. I'd also like key systems to be isolated from non-key systems. If my headlights develop a short and the wires overheat and melt, I don't want the wires leading to my sta
      • Brake lights are moving to LEDs these days, so the power draw will be lower than you'd expect.
      • Of course, I doubt you could pull the requisite 15W to power brake lights from a firewire port. :P

        All that just means it's time for autofirewire edition... that doesn't sound very good. Let's make that autoiwire, nah that sounds dorky. Let's just like IEEE come up with and addition to the 1394 standard to include high Watt devices... It'll be IEEE 1394b or something.

        I give up. I'm not in marketing.
    • Re:Big Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by HonkyLips ( 654494 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @09:52PM (#10627983)
      Perhaps it's not that special, but it's interesting. I don't know if you've played around with your car's electrical system, but they can be an absolute nightmare when something goes wrong. I had all sorts of problems with my first (crappy) car, mainly stemming from a ground cable coming loose. Auto electrical systems are not a fun thing to work on. Traditional wiring can rust, connectors can break, faults in other parts of the car (especially grounding problems) can screw up totally unrelated parts of the car... I had my headlights refuse to work when I accidentally connected my car radio incorrectly, even though it worked fine etc etc etc. I've installed a lot of car radios and in older cars there is no uniform system for wire colours or even power colours. It can take longer to figure out which cables connect to which than it does to actually mount the radio and speakers...
      By moving from a traditional wire loom to an optical system with a protocol like 1394 not only are you avoiding physical problems like weight and corrosion, you're also making everything much easier to troubleshoot and install.
      Personally I think this is great. It's not too dissimilar to the comparison of VoIP to PSTN.
      • Re:Big Wow. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by drinkypoo ( 153816 )
        Also keep in mind that basically everything in the car is going to go electrical, including brakes, steering, et cetera. Some of this stuff has happened already. We'll be able to run one power bus around the car that gets successively smaller, protected by successive inline fusible links and fuses, and one optical control lead which goes to all of the components. It will simplify troubleshooting of both control and power systems, make it immediately apparent which system has failed, and make the whole thing
      • Perhaps it's not that special, but it's interesting. I don't know if you've played around with your car's electrical system, but they can be an absolute nightmare when something goes wrong. I had all sorts of problems with my first (crappy) car, mainly stemming from a ground cable coming loose. Auto electrical systems are not a fun thing to work on.

        FYI, automotive manuals tend to include wiring diagrams which, horror stories aside, tend to be rather accurate. They include color codes for the wires.

      • There's ten bazillion wires in cars. The reason for this is that there's ten bazillion different things that need done, all in different places.

        Fiber optics won't help that problem at all.

        The only way to reduce cabling and maintain functionality is to use a multipoint data bus of some sort. And it doesn't make a lick of difference if that bus runs over twisted pair, single-mode AT&T glass fiber, coax, or bailing wire. In terms of quantity, they're all the same.

        And now that we know we need a bus, w
      • Virtually all weirdness is caused by some kind of grounding problem in cars. Sometimes it feels like electrical systems in cars do not obey the normal rules of electricity (for example, the windscreen wipers failed in my old Dodge - I checked there was voltage when the switch was on, and sure enough there it was, I checked the motor was working, and sure enough it was - but despite volts and a working motor, they didn't wipe - problem turned out to be an intermittent ground which only showed up when the sys
    • Out of curiosity, what do you drive? Does your car have optical technology? I mean, considering that it's nothing special. Are you so 'elite that you can make a statement so derisive as to determine what others may consider "news"?

      I didn't think so. Since you're posting AC, my bet is that you're some dork with 0 (z3r0) credibility. Furthermore, I'd be willing to bet that you know absolutely nothing about telematics (that means computers in cars). It's much more sophisticated than "cables in cars". S
    • Its all fun and games, but we all know that fiber cannot be bent more thant 30-45 degrees directly (but rather gradualy) and even then it has to be encased in some sort of polymer/plastic armor to protest it. But the best part comes when you take it to your redneck mechanic and he just yanks the cabe and breaks it in half, somehow i dont think you would be paying 2000$ to fusion weld the cable? Or better scenario is if one of the laser diodes fails (happens over time, it is a diode, after all) after 10 ish
  • The car is fitted with one monitor in the front and another in the rear seat area. Depending on the chosen mode, the front seat monitor can display up to four images at one time from seven different cameras mounted at the front, side and rear of the vehicle, giving the driver all-round visibility including blind spots. Simultaneously, the rear seat monitor can show DVD images.

    Sounds like something between an Episode of Pimp My Ride and a James Bond's Aston Martin DB5.

  • This will make it so much easier to film those Getaway in Stockholm [getawayinstockholm.com] videos and other tidbits for "world's wackiest car chases".

    Of course the black-box type implications of potential onboard video recording capability can't be underestimated either. Thermal imaging will make driving through the fog slightly easier as well, though I think we'll have to consider the safety implications of geeks at high-speed tweaking onboard surveillance to watch the road rather than actually watching it...
  • Usefulness (Score:4, Funny)

    by fembots ( 753724 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @09:18PM (#10627775) Homepage
    I can already see some uses of this technology.

    1. Sensor which alerts owners that their car tyre has been chalked (parking tickets).

    2. Sensor to trigger water spray to remove any chalk marks

    3. Monitor to checks all four wheels, when you feel/hear something weird, but don't want to stop your car.

    4. Monitor to checks if your skirts is trapped between the door and slapping on the tarmac going 100mph.

    5. Monitor to show your windscreen wiper spray tank level, so you know when to refill.
    • Re:Usefulness (Score:4, Interesting)

      by HeliosTrick ( 825325 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @09:22PM (#10627795) Homepage
      How about number 6? 6. Playing high-speed driving games instead of actually driving. Actually though, your number 5 is already in existance. I had a '97 Pontiac Bonneville with a low spray tank level warning. I think with that much bandwidth though, there's no reason a car could be sensored out to the max. If only they'd toss on a mode so you could see what the check engine light really is...
      • Many automobiles have "displays" where it tells you what is wrong instead of a ligh. Such as a Jeep Grand Cherokee. It will display on a LED display (text) that your fluids are low. While this sounds great, when the sensors go bad you are bombarded by a invalid warning until you get them repaired. Since there are a LOT of sensors this can be expensive. They also have low tire sensors on some automobiles as well.

        Example: http://www.wjjeeps.com/evic1.jpg [wjjeeps.com]
  • 400 Mbps (Score:4, Funny)

    by Planky ( 761118 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @09:19PM (#10627779) Homepage
    The multimedia capabilities are made possible by the adoption of a high-speed 1394 optical fiber network communications system which allows a data transmission rate of 400 Mbps (mega-
    bites per second).
    Thats some super speedy eating :D
    • Eye saw that two, an was gung to pint out the eras in the statehood, but I sea you half all ruddy beet me two it.

      Good Jibe. Too me, better luck next thyme.

      Eff their were no such dings as hypo-Graflex eras, wheat oils wood wee be abel two polk fawn at hear on Dash-Dot? ;-))

  • sweeet (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bLindmOnkey ( 744643 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @09:20PM (#10627783)
    I love the idea of multimedia in the car, but just one problem:

    "The prototype is equipped with 7 cameras on the body and a 12-inch LCD monitor in the front"

    Wouldn't this be more than a little bit distracting for the driver? I mean, what's more interesting, watching the red light change green or watching neo take the red pill?
    • Re:sweeet (Score:2, Funny)

      by ryanvm ( 247662 )
      I mean, what's more interesting, watching the red light change green or watching Neo take the red pill?

      Watching the red light.
    • I think the idea would be to replace the entire in-dash display console with an LCD monitor that replicates the speedometer and odometer, but can also replace the non-descriptive "Check Engine" light with a scrolling message that gives exact information about the sensed problem instead of requiring somebody with a special chip-reader tool to extract that error message.
  • GTA (Score:4, Funny)

    by Thomas Henden ( 804134 ) <t_henden&hotmail,com> on Monday October 25, 2004 @09:23PM (#10627808)
    Now, if you can get some more of these cars and play networked GTA with your friends...
  • Cable Weight (Score:5, Informative)

    by mod_critical ( 699118 ) * on Monday October 25, 2004 @09:23PM (#10627809)

    Wow, they're bragging up the reduction of weight of a wiring harness in a car. That's just awesome. Holy crap don't want to go over GVWR in the Nissan with a copper cabling system. Pardon me while I go shopping for light weight optical camping gear as not to kill my gas milage.

    • Re:Cable Weight (Score:5, Informative)

      by BWJones ( 18351 ) * on Monday October 25, 2004 @09:32PM (#10627870) Homepage Journal
      Actually......the typical weight of an automotive wiring harness is around 50 lbs which absolutely does impact your milage and has been an issue for automotive manufacturers for a number of years particularly with increasing fuel economy standards that will be going in place over the next few years. Every little bit helps.

      • Re:Cable Weight (Score:3, Interesting)

        by QuantumRiff ( 120817 )
        But what is the weight of 7 cameras and two LCD monitors? I'm guessing if the drivers can show 4 feeds at once, its probably not a 4 inch LCD.. and the boxes to mux the video feeds..

      • Oh well, yes, they are quite weighty. However, I'm certain you are talking about a wiring harness for the whole car's electronics system, not just the video system. I suppose that maybe there is a large enough impact if they are mentioning it in the article, it is just too devoid of details as to how fiber is going to make a significant weight difference over copper.

        • how fiber is going to make a significant weight difference over copper.

          Especially given that you can't replace all the wire in a car with fibre. Everything still needs to get power (the heaviest single chunk of wire in a car runs from the battery to the starter). All the various devices that are communicating via the fibre still need to get power from somewhere.
          And all the lights (sure, the dash indicators could be fibre based, I suppose) still need power.

          Sure, it's a cool application of technology, bu
      • Re:Cable Weight (Score:2, Insightful)

        by YGingras ( 605709 )
        the typical weight of an automotive wiring harness is around 50 lbs which absolutely does impact your milage
        A typical sedan weight more than 2500 lb, a typical SUV more than 4000. So half of 50 lb is less than one percent improvement. I think there is lot of places where they could trim the weight down more cost effectively.
      • Another benefit would be that optical fiber is mostly immune to the extremely large noise issues in your average car; EMI becomes much less of a concern, at least in terms of the wires. Still have to worry about it on the boards, though.
    • Re:Cable Weight (Score:3, Informative)

      by streak ( 23336 )
      Actually, wiring harnesses are pretty damn heavy.
      I know that a wiring harness of a Cadillac Escalade weighs in at somewhere around 100-110lbs for the complete harness.

      Reducing weight is a big deal for automakers.
      • The question I would like to ask is what percentage of that weight is insulation? Yes the copper weighs more for a given quantity but there's more insulation than wire. Autos are going 48V and that means that the insulation will be more important than ever to prevent arcing. Perhaps a more durable sheathing will be used so that we can have thinner insulation...
    • Re:Cable Weight (Score:4, Interesting)

      by pchan- ( 118053 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @09:52PM (#10627982) Journal
      before in car networks, when you had to run a cable from the driver-side window switch to every window in the car, vehicles had somewhere near 20 miles (!) of cables inside. today, class two networks, such as CAN, MOST, and this firewire thing, have taken over alot of the functionality, replacing dumb control wires with protocol messages and microcontrollers. did you know that in a modern high end gm vehicle, and similarly in a mercedes, you can now control every non-critical component (windows, headlights, air conditioner, wipers, radio, ...) from a single lan? MOST even carries audio data from your CD changer over the same network. we're talking literally hundreds of pounds saved, especially in large and feature-full vehicles.
    • Re:Cable Weight (Score:5, Insightful)

      by theonetruekeebler ( 60888 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:19PM (#10628126) Homepage Journal
      The weight savings are significant, as are the savings in cost of assembly and maintenance. Not just the 75 pounds of copper wire you don't have to carry around, but that you don't have to route, don't have to design and build large enough channels to let pass, don't have to pay a troubleshooter $50/hour to sort through looking for the white wire with the blue dotted stripe and for God's sake not the white wire with the blue dashed stripe. Wiring harnesses are a nightmare. The wires are incredibly thin and fragile, and modern car that has been in a serious but non-totalling accident will probably have electrical problems all its life, due to damage to the harness.

      Even on a modern motorcycle, it can get ugly. I've had to replace the harness on a 1999 BMW motorcycle, where it weighed almost 25 pounds and required the removal of every single body panel and parts of the rear subframe to get to parts of it. It was rated as a ten hour job for a skilled mechanic.

      Compare this to the wiring system on a 2005 BMW K1200S, where the wiring harness is replaced by a four wire cable that run everywhere: two wires for power and two for data. Each section of the bike, like the instrument cluster, has a box in it that reads the signal and routes the power where it needs to be. The whole system weighs 6 pounds, and a 19 pound weight savings on a motorcycle is significant.

      An on-vehicle LAN solves a hell of a lot of problems, and IEEE 1394, with its prioritization protocols and huge bandwidth, is a great idea.

    • by Osty ( 16825 )

      As others have mentioned, saving weight anywhere possible is a Good Thing (tm) in a car. Ligher weight means a higher power to weight ratio, which means a faster car at the same horsepower (or better mileage, if you're into that sort of thing). Don't believe me? Take a look at the Porsche GT3 RS. They went so far in removing weight that the Porsche emblem on the hood is a sticker! Traditionally, it's a plastic or metal badge, but they went all out in removing as much weight as possible from the GT3 for

  • by chaffed ( 672859 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @09:24PM (#10627825) Homepage
    The last time I checked optical cabling like niether virbration or dirt. So is this really a great application? BTW 1394... WHY? it makes some sense but seems slightly random as well.

    • 1394... WHY?

      Probably because the technology in supporting electronics and chipsets, not to mention programming knowledge, has been massively subsidized by the mainstream computing market. Going off and reinventing the wheel with their own transport system just isn't rational in such a case.
    • Cars are also filled with all kinds of nasty electromagnetic fields, which copper cabling hates.

      Pick your poison.

      (also, if you use proper connectors, optical cabling doesn't mind vibration all that much)
  • by Tumbleweed ( 3706 ) * on Monday October 25, 2004 @09:24PM (#10627826)
    IEEE1394.b was supposedly capable of scaling to 3200mbps via optical connections, but I've not yet seen any such equipment (or even the 1600mbps variant) - anyone know what the poop is on >800mbps FW?
  • by Karma Sucks ( 127136 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @09:28PM (#10627850)
    Knight Rider, anybody?
  • by Indy Media Watch ( 823624 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @09:33PM (#10627881) Homepage
    Before we get too excited about weight reductions, increased technology or bragging rights, let's remember something.

    Air-conditioning, power-steering and even ABS still aren't standard despite costing next to nothing at build time and being about as essential as you could get.

    Manufacturers need to cripple cheaper cars to somehow justify the extra $100k plus you can spend on higher-end models. Otherwise people start saying why does this car cost twice as much when it isn't twice the car?

    I suspect it will be a long time before we see this sort of thing in wide use.
    • Air-conditioning, power-steering and even ABS still aren't standard despite costing next to nothing at build time and being about as essential as you could get.

      They aren't? This might vary from country to country; I understand that in the UK, for example, most cars have standard transmissions and an automatic transmission is a minor luxury feature.
      • I understand that in the UK, for example, most cars have standard transmissions and an automatic transmission is a minor luxury feature.

        Whereas here in the US, I had to hunt and wait to find my G35 6MT Sedan, then pay a premium over the standard Auto equipped car (worth every penny). Most inspired line, when talking to my salesman (who actually remembers me bitching about Infiniti delaying the stick shift cars to speed the Coupe along):

        SALESMAN: You know, these six-speeds are hard to come by. They sell

        • Personally, I'm looking forward to sequential manual transmissions becoming more prevalent. They shift faster and with proper computer control, smoothly every time. My only concern is being able to double-shift, which no doubt will become a performance option. It's not that I don't like my five speed (never driven a six) but let's face it, race cars use sequential transmissions for a reason. Boy, do I wish I could get me a G35 sport coupe, though :) Right now I have a 240SX, and there is a six speed manual
    • Incidentally, DaimlerChrysler's ugly little Smart [thesmart.co.uk] car is coming to the US [slashdot.org] and has as ABS as a standard feature [zapworld.com], but does not offer power steering and A/C standard. However, most people do not need either; power steering is unnecessary in a car this small and A/C is by far not the problem in most places - usually it's the heater you need to stay alive. In the UK the base model costs about the equivalent of US$10,000, so I suspect a model with P/S and A/C will probably be about $1100. More important than thos
    • Maybe it's different there...

      You'd be hard pressed to see a new car here in Australia that doesn't have air conditioning.

      For that matter, ABS is on almost all (if not all) new cars, and I don't think I've see a new car in the last 5 years without power steering as standard.

      Either it's different there (and you guys get ripped off) or you're not too in touch. :)
    • Manufacturers need to cripple cheaper cars to somehow justify the extra $100k plus you can spend on higher-end models.

      Basically, the free market takes care of this. It can take time, as the big boys who have a sort of implicit oligopoly / price fixing trust try to fight off the smaller guys, but it will almost always happen. (The cases where it doesn't are "natural monopolies" and government-granted monopolies (like cable companies, etc)).

      Your kind of thinking ("Manufacturers need to cripple cheap cars
    • I drove a car for a few years in Houston with no AC (in the summer thank you very much), and I got by. So I'll brook no talk about AC being an essential part of a car.

      ABS maybe (though I'm not even sure there), but not AC.
      • I live in the UK. AC is a luxury item still sold on cars here because 95% of the year, you just don't need it. Different temperature /humidity range in green and rolling England from desert conditions in Australia/southern USA etc. "Essential" is what our agreed safety requirements are. I drive a 1965 Singer Gazelle and get on just fine without AC, ABS, no power steering, any computers and a total of two electrical fuses :-) I'd be sad but would accept if people said that a minimum safety requirement meant
  • Does this mean the Parents can see what trouble their kids are gettin into on their date via streaming video on tha Intarweb?

  • This could be that lean mean war driving machine that I have been looking for! Not that I can afford a new car, or a slightly used car, or a moderatly beaten car (I am in the market for a severly beaten near the point of death car).

    Hell, who am I kidding, most of my vehicles have more electronic stuff in the stereo then they do in teh rest of the car.
  • ...so does iPod-cable equipped BMWs count?
  • wouldn't this require a reeally long spool of wire to drive the car around?

  • Isn't... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Bug-Y2K ( 126658 ) on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:43PM (#10628224) Homepage

    FireWire a BUS, not a car?

    sorry, couldn't resist.

  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Monday October 25, 2004 @10:45PM (#10628236) Homepage Journal
    Just a reminder, if you depend on physical security and have 1394 ports powered, any 1394 device can read your system's memory [pacsec.jp] through DMA.

    Turn them off in the BIOS if this is an issue for you (the linked article suggest globs of epoxy...).

    Coming soon to a sensationalist news story near you.
  • All this technology in the car and I still can't plug my laptop in and get the report as to why the check-engine light is on, and I still can't swap general parts with my other car. I assume there are marketing reasons for those issues, but isn't there some standards committee who could oppose the situation? Diagnostics software/hardware and interchangeable parts are some useful and well understood computer features, are they not?
    • All this technology in the car and I still can't plug my laptop in and get the report as to why the check-engine light is on

      Yes you can. I've saved about $500 in the last year using this. [ghg.net]
      Diagnosed an intermittent misfire, a weird overheating problem, and checked out a potential used car buy.

      There are several other versions around, from $88 to over $500. However, you still need basic troubleshooting skills.

  • Digital cars will be a great thing. It's not just flying car stuff, but basic, useful improvements every geek would love:
    • Those big protrusions out the side of the car... you know, mirrors? Replace them with a pinhole sized camera in the high mounted brake light. Not only does it shave weight, but look at the air flow advantages.
    • Put all the LED's in some central part of the car and just pipe the light out to the headlights and tail lights. Switch the signals centrally, so you can use less bulbs (light all three brake lights with a single (plus backup) LED, a single signal light, etc...) The mounting for the lights in the back is then much lighter, and there is no need to route copper power wires back there. Reduced, power, reduced components, reduced weight.
    • Like the minivan rear-view cameras, improved visibility, no blind spots, given enough cameras.
    • Use infrared cameras to improve night vision (assuming HUD display instead of LCD in dash.)
    • The cameras are a prerequisite for the self-driving cars in the future (sensors for the computers)
    • All digital dashboard (series of LCD's for the whole instrument panel.) Then you can have three camera views while backing up. and see the speedometer when going forward. This will also make it cheaper to have "sport gauges" and can have dozens of other sensors that just don't fit into a normal dash, but only show up on the displays when they have something important to share. (oil pressure, oil volume, oil temperature, oil viscosity, tire pressure, tire temperature, brake fluid level, coolant level, coolant pressure) All of that could be made much more cheaply.
    • Instead of just "check engine" ... how about a dashboard that says: "um, excuse me, this is your engine, I'm running OK, but cylinder 4 has poor ignition, probably needs a new spark plug lead." or "Hi, you've cracked a cylinder head, kiss your wallet goodbye."
    • Put all the LED's in some central part of the car and just pipe the light out to the headlights and tail lights. Switch the signals centrally, so you can use less bulbs (light all three brake lights with a single (plus backup) LED, a single signal light, etc...) The mounting for the lights in the back is then much lighter, and there is no need to route copper power wires back there. Reduced, power, reduced components, reduced weight.

      LED car lights are almost always clusters, because a single LED isn'
      • Give it a few years; within 10 years, I'm expecting the majority of car lights (including headlamps and taillamps) to be LED-based. The advantages are just way too many to resist; the only downside right now is cost (and, to a certain extent, white LED brightness when speaking of headlamps) and cost is dropping rapidly.

        That said, the idea is still dumb because the clusters of light-pipes would be more hassle than mounting the LEDs remotely and powering them; you don't need a single wire per LED, just 2 or
    • Instead of just "check engine" ... how about a dashboard that says: "um, excuse me, this is your engine, I'm running OK, but cylinder 4 has poor ignition, probably needs a new spark plug lead." or "Hi, you've cracked a cylinder head, kiss your wallet goodbye."


      never going to happen... they already have those devices (to some extent) at the service station for a reason.
    • Instead of just "check engine" ... how about a dashboard that says: "um, excuse me, this is your engine, I'm running OK, but cylinder 4 has poor ignition, probably needs a new spark plug lead."

      Most newer cars already do self-diagnosis, but there's no way the manufacturers will let the car tell the owner what's wrong. They want you to take it to the dealership so they can fix it.

      I bought the Honda service manual for my 2000 Prelude. It had instructions for shorting a connector which would cause the check
    • Instead of just "check engine" ... how about a dashboard that says: "um, excuse me, this is your engine, I'm running OK, but cylinder 4 has poor ignition, probably needs a new spark plug lead." or "Hi, you've cracked a cylinder head, kiss your wallet goodbye."

      I see you're are trying to drive your car. Would you like me to take over for you [slashdot.org]?
    • Well, my VW Golf, rated as 'simple' car already has that... There are multiple CPU's inside the car and the motor management computer gives feedback about possible car problems via a LED-screen... I once had a broken air-intake-sensor and it caused the car to put itself in 'safe mode' limiting my speed to 90 kph and displaying a warning. Depending on the driving style and state of the engine, the maintenance sign is displayed at different mileages (max. 30.000km) and severe errors are marked with yellow
  • ...you can run optical to various points around the car, and then tap off it for whatever device you want, rather than dedicating a particular color/gauge wire, that needs decoding later.

    Want to make a base model SUX2008? One domelight slave assembly that grabs the optical harness. Want a HiLux SUX2008 instead? No problem - same harness, just tap in with 3 more domelight modules and a connection for a DVD unit and you're done.
  • Boycott Nissan! (Score:4, Interesting)

    by reflector ( 62643 ) on Tuesday October 26, 2004 @03:39AM (#10629219)
    Nissan Motors has been for many years trying to bully and harass a small business owner by the name of Mr. Nissan, who registered nissan.com for his computer company, before Nissan Motors had ever considered having a web presence.
    Nissan Motors was stupid and slow, but they felt that by paying enough money to lawyers to harass this small business owner, they could intimidate him into handing over what did not belong to them, the nissan.com domain.
    This is a well-known and unfortunate story, it's been featured on TechTV and other places, more info here:
    http://www.ncchelp.org/The_Story/the_story. htm

    Even though my last car was a Nissan, I decided I won't be buying from them again after learning of their behavior.

    I urge you to boycott Nissan, and to write to Nissan motors exlaining to them that you don't support corporate thuggishness.

  • So, I'm no expert on optical fiber, but I know they used to be pretty fragile. I have spent enough time on vehicles' electrical systems to know that even thick copper stresses, cracks, and fails. Is there any concern that fiber may not be durable enough for a vehicle application?
  • "The application of optical fiber also means that the weight of the cables can be reduced to about one-half the weight of a conventional wiring harness."

    They tried conductive fiber, but plastic doesn't conduct very well.

    WTF? Optical fiber? That's like noodle spaghetti.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo. - Andy Finkel, computer guy

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