Software development has becoming an integral part of automotive engineering. A premium-class automobile probably contains close to 100 million lines of software code executing on 70 to 100 ECUs throughout its body. Even the low-end cars have tens of million of lines of code on 30 to 50 embedded ECUs.
Following are how and where software is used in cars:
- Air-bag system
- Antilock brakes
- Automatic transmission
- Alarm system
- Climate control
- Collision-avoidance system
- Cruise control
- Communication system
- Dashboard instrumentation
- Electronic stability control
- Engine ignition
- Engine control
- Electronic-seat control
- Entertainment system
- Navigation system
- Power steering
- Tire-pressure monitoring
- Windshield-wiper control
As you can see from the list of features above, it is not wrong to estimate that more than 80% of car innovations come from computer systems and software has become the major contributor of car's value. The cost of software and electronics can reach up to 40% of the cost of a premium car today, and is expected to rise to 50% for conventional cars and 80% for hybrids within 10 years, according to experts.
But, what about bugs?
Come to think of it, writing millions lines of bugs-free code could be too much of an asking, even for the ever cautious Japanese. The world's no.1 automaker Toyota, had infamously recalled 160,000 of its Prius hybrids in 2005 because of a software problem that could cause the car to a sudden stall or shut down. Hey, even our own Proton had its recall, probably not related to software though, haha!
However, Proton might not fare as bad as Microsoft, if they are to program in cars...
Bill Gates reportedly compared the computer industry with the auto industry and stated “If GM had kept up with technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25.00 cars that got 1,000 miles to the gallon." In response to Bill’s comments, General Motors issued a press release stating: "If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics."
1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash twice a day.
2. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.
3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason. You would have to pull to the side of the road, close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.
4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.
5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive - but would run on only five percent of the roads.
6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single “This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation” warning light.
7. The airbag system would ask “Are you sure?” before deploying.
8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.
9. Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.
10. You’d have to press the “Start” button to turn the engine off.