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Japanese Auto Makers Teaming Up To Create Standard OS

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 6 years ago | from the specialized-mechanics-heard-weeping dept.

Operating Systems 266

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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266 comments

A day late and a dollar short... (5, Interesting)

RollTissue (896833) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:A day late and a dollar short... (5, Funny)

Spazntwich (208070) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:A day late and a dollar short... (4, Funny)

HTTP Error 403 403.9 (628865) | more than 6 years ago | (#20047383)

...transmogrifying your loan into tentacles and then proceeding to rape you with them.
Is that how they produce that new car smell?

Re:A day late and a dollar short... (3, Insightful)

yog (19073) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046277)

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.

Re:A day late and a dollar short... (4, Funny)

Volante3192 (953645) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.)

Re:A day late and a dollar short... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20047377)

LMAO nice. +1 funny

Re:A day late and a dollar short... (1)

Ngarrang (1023425) | more than 6 years ago | (#20047015)

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.

Re:A day late and a dollar short... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 6 years ago | (#20047217)

"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 tune his own car for performance.

Re:A day late and a dollar short... (3, Interesting)

nonsequitor (893813) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:A day late and a dollar short... (1)

hal2814 (725639) | more than 6 years ago | (#20047267)

"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?

Re:A day late and a dollar short... (1)

slickwillie (34689) | more than 6 years ago | (#20047045)

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?

Awww shucks... (-1, Troll)

Iphtashu Fitz (263795) | more than 6 years ago | (#20045905)

Does this mean I won't be able to buy a car running Microsoft Windows (tm) for Internal Combustion Engines (Win-ICE)? I was so looking forward to having to reboot my car every 1000 miles...

Re:Awww shucks... (1)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20045941)

Your car gets 1000 miles to a single tank of gas?

That's awesome.

Re:Awww shucks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20046023)

Your car gets 1000 miles to a single tank of gas?

Rebooting computers in cars has nothing to do with starting or stopping the engine. The computer systems in most modern day cars maintain state by a trickle charge from the batteries. You need to disconnect the battery for a period of time to reset them.

Re:Awww shucks... (1)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046521)

My PC's motherboard maintains a constant voltage from the PSU and, indeed, the on-board battery.

I guess I need to disconnect the PSU and pop out the MB battery to reboot my pooter.

Re:Awww shucks... (1)

no_pets (881013) | more than 6 years ago | (#20045943)

Hey, maybe the American auto manufacturers will adopt Win-ICE for you. (FORD - Fix Or Reboot Daily).

Amazing (2, Insightful)

GradiusCVK (1017360) | more than 6 years ago | (#20045969)

Wow, this is truly going to be revolutionary, allowing automakers to finally produce truly interchangable parts. [/sarcasm] Anybody else feel pretty certain they'll still change the shape and size and mounting locations on every single part every year so that there will still be almost no compatibility between models and years and so forth? What does this really buy us?

Re:Amazing (1)

Gregb05 (754217) | more than 6 years ago | (#20047101)

More profit for the partmakers since they'll only have to develop one set of instructions (ideally).

If it doesn't.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20046289)

Does this mean I won't be able to buy a car running Microsoft Windows (tm) for Internal Combustion Engines (Win-ICE)? I was so looking forward to having to reboot my car every 1000 miles...

Would you really want MS-Windows? Your insurance rates for crashes.....

Re:Awww shucks... (1)

LindaMack (1134133) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046911)

Obviously some kind of emoticon might have prevented your trollification <:o)
But what do I know, we seem to be entering an era of anti-anti-microsoft bashing...

--
Resistance is futile

Is there a reason they aren't using Linux? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20045909)

Okay okay, so realtime is probably necessary. But open source would be nice. And I'm sure some GNUtard will be along shortly to correct me on the status of RT in Linux.

Oblig. (1, Funny)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 6 years ago | (#20045925)

Imagine a Beowulf cluster of those!

Re:Oblig. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20045971)

A traffic jam?

Re:Oblig. (2, Interesting)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046015)

Well to some degree, that's the point. Mercedes has already done testing running cars at 90 MPH just 2 inches apart through a network communication protocol. Part of the goal of this project is to come up with a standard for such a protocol and integrate it into the OS.

Oh, yeah, I love the idea of an OS on my car. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20045927)

One more thing that can break... er... *crash*

Honestly, putting an OS in a car seems like a solution looking for a problem as the saying goes.

Re:Oh, yeah, I love the idea of an OS on my car. (2)

Mattintosh (758112) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046011)

You seem to be under the illusion that your car doesn't already have one. Unless it was made before 1995 or so, it does. If it was made before 1995, it still might, depending on the make/model. It's not until you go back to about 1980 that you'll find a year where all cars had mechanical stuff instead of ECU's.

Basically, if your car has EFI, it has an OS. If it has a carburetor, maybe not.

Re:Oh, yeah, I love the idea of an OS on my car. (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046179)

No, I am not under that illusion, just because my car has an OS, doesn't mean I don't think it's a stupid idea.

Re:Oh, yeah, I love the idea of an OS on my car. (4, Informative)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046099)

Don't be so naive, Every production model of car for the past few years has an embedded operating system. Many people improperly compare their car's OS to that of Windows desktop. There's a major problem with that comparison though. The software is made specifically not to crash and to be fail proof at (almost) every conceivable pitfall it may encounter. A better comparison would be to medical devices to keep people alive. When lives hang in the balance, a little more attention is paid to the details.

Re:Oh, yeah, I love the idea of an OS on my car. (1)

Shagg (99693) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046799)

True, but more like since the mid 80s, not just the past few years.

To extend your point... the article isn't about inventing the idea of an OS in your car, which has been around for a long time. What they're talking about is standardizing the various OSs that already exist. In the US today Chevy, Ford, etc all have computers in their cars that manage the engine, transmission, emissions, etc, but they're not interchangeable. If your Chevy ECU needs replacement you can't put a Ford ECU in. Same thing with sensors/parts that work with the ECU. Even within the same manufacturer you often need to match up the specific engine type, or even the specific engine year. All the article is talking about is coming up with a standard for the computers so that it's more convenient when repairing/upgrading the vehicles.

All of the "oh my god, my car running on windows?" jokes may be amusing, but that's obviously not what this is about.

It's more about APIs than OSs (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046705)

This is a Good Idea because it makes a commodity market for car parts, subcomponents and software.

Japan has used the uTRON RTOS specification for ages. This can be though of as similar to a light-weight POSIX specification that allows code to be ported relatively easily across RTOSs that have uTRON interfaces. This makes it realtively simple to interface code at the task level.

Remember folks that cars these days are packed with CPUs and are really just networks on wheels.

This exercise is more about setting a standardised architecture and set of interfaces that allows better integration of more complex elements.

Maybe they'll open an API for it? (1)

jgarra23 (1109651) | more than 6 years ago | (#20045945)

Hehe, that would be amusing... and neato at the same time actually. Who knows how many useful & dangerous apps could be made...

Re:Maybe they'll open an API for it? (1)

nonsequitor (893813) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046969)

More likely they'll sell a developer station for companies to test with. This would include the full API and headers. The sale of such of device would also likely include various NDAs concerning the technology. While they want to become the industry standard, they aren't giving it away and will mostly be selling a no frills development platform for upwards of 10 grand, though you can probably get a production unit for much less.

I'm not sure how familiar you are with proprietary software in the industrial arena but its not cheap and also not open. You could probably get one if you told Toyota that you wanted to make next-gen development tools for 3rd party manufacturers. Likely they would then run a background and credit check on your company and ask for your lawyer's contact info to work out the details of the NDA.

I thought this was what TRON was for? (4, Informative)

WillAdams (45638) | more than 6 years ago | (#20045957)

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

Re:I thought this was what TRON was for? (2, Funny)

nevali (942731) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046281)

Yeah, I thought some of the TRON variants were in pretty massive widespread use in embedded systems, especially in Japan.

News of the Day (2, Funny)

Sierpinski (266120) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:News of the Day (5, Funny)

Midnight Thunder (17205) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046103)

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.

Re:News of the Day (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046291)

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

Re:News of the Day (4, Funny)

FictionalAccount (1041822) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046561)

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.

Re:News of the Day (0, Troll)

Sierpinski (266120) | more than 6 years ago | (#20047315)

Wow, who pissed in your corn flakes this morning?

North Korea called, they want their unchecked aggression back.

Re:News of the Day (2, Funny)

Chris whatever (980992) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046569)

It would have been funnier with

'you are trying to avoid the cliff by drastically turning the wheel: allow or deny.....:\

I don't understand (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20046009)

Can someone explain this article to me using a car analogy?

Re:I don't understand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20046097)

It's as if auto manufacters were conspiring to put things like the shifter, pedals, and turn signal stalk in standard locations.

car os != desktop os (3, Interesting)

SolusSD (680489) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046049)

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.

Re:car os != desktop os (1)

jessecurry (820286) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046265)

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?

Re:car os != desktop os (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20046471)

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?
And why, exactly, does that require checking two lambda expressions for equivalence?

Re:car os != desktop os (1)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046351)

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 better-tested components and ripped the rest out, then really worked on validating what was left to a high standard, I'd consider it a doable option.

Haiku might also be workable, with some work, as it's designed to support a very large number of independent activities - exactly the kind of environment you'd face in a car.

Re:car os != desktop os (1)

GrievousMistake (880829) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046603)

I know what they are, but it's hard to know how much I need to know about them before critizising, when you don't actually say what features would make them a good fit for a car OS. I thought everyone agreed that low-level OS stuff like drivers were one of the things that weren't practical to do functional-style?
Even if the languages you suggest somehow were a good fit, I wouldn't use something so exotic for a project like this. While I don't know what languages cars are typically programmed in, I doubt most car manufacturers have a surplus of experienced Haskell programmers.

Re:car os != desktop os (1)

SolusSD (680489) | more than 6 years ago | (#20047159)

the issue is reliability-- imperative languages are hard to use to write bug free software. The reason I tihnked to the COSA project is it describes a way of programming that is inherently parallel. Inconsistent and unpredictable latency in a "time critical" OS are unacceptable.

Re:car os != desktop os (1)

suv4x4 (956391) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046897)

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!

Re:car os != desktop os (1)

SolusSD (680489) | more than 6 years ago | (#20047207)

waht makes you think they won't use a desktop OS? windows NT runs British battleships.

Its been done (3, Insightful)

BitZtream (692029) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:Its been done (1)

nani popoki (594111) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046173)

On the other hand, having an endemic, standardized OS will ensure hardware uniformity. Look at the "wintel" architecture: how many Intel boxes that CAN'T run Windows are made each year? The Intel box runs Windows because most of them will be running Windows. Likewise, the auto peripheral will be compatible with this OS because that's the OS it's going to find itself connected to.

Dec. 23, 2008: CarNet Becomes Self-Aware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20046077)

"We had reached the first 1.0rc of CarOS in mid December. Little did we know that all the smart components would communicate together at an exponential rate until achieving sentience in less than a week. Our Japanese research facility was destroyed and the Auto-Bot empire was born..."

-AC, sekrit underground bunker, July 30th 2017

OSEK and AUTOSAR (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20046079)

What about the OSEK/VDX standards and the AUTOSAR initiative?

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

http://www.autosar.org/find02_ns6.php [autosar.org]

Re:OSEK and AUTOSAR (3, Informative)

aldaran (648915) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046629)

The development of a standard operating system for cars is not exactly groundbreaking news. OSEK-VDX, a cooperation between German and french manufacturers, exists since 1995. AUTOSAR is a newer set of standards for automative software where European and American (Ford, GM) companies have teamed up. As mentioned in a previous post, first implementations of AUTOSAR are expected for 2008. Both OSEK and AUTOSAR are not operating systems itself, but standards and specifications (like POSIX and TRON, correct me if I am wrong). Actually I'd be surprised if there were not something similar already in use by Japanese manufacturers. As for TRON, I always thought it is used mostly in consumer electronis.

so if you crash... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20046085)

all you have to do is press alt-ctrl-delete ;-)

A group of engineers... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#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? (5, Informative)

Himring (646324) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046151)

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? (5, Interesting)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

True Volkswagen Baja Story (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20046807)

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 like a helicopter, you could barely hear yourself think. It had a souped-up 1800cc engine that was the greasiest, ugliest thing I'd ever seen in my life.

I really liked that car. It was fast as hell and totally terrifying to drive.

One time, my ex girlfriend tried to make fun of my car by flying past it in her mustang (over Camelback Mountain). I let her get just past me and I stomped on the gas; I flew past her and got the thing up over 100 mph before making the crest of the mountain (this was on the upward side, mind you).

Even better, one time I was sitting at a stoplight and this creepy ASU kid and his girlfriend were making fun of my car from their convertible. I looked over at them, and when the light turned green, stomped the accelerator and popped the clutch. The damn thing popped a wheelie and I almost had a heart attack. But it was worth it, the kid was so surprised he forgot to go and got cut off by traffic.

Still... I ended up selling it for the same 800 bucks to another college kid. He took it out in the desert, floored it, shot off the top of a sand dune, and obliterated the car. Amazingly, the kid survived and called me up to ask for his 800 bucks back! I said "what are you, nuts? Consider it a stupidity tax" and hung up.

Sigh... Poor car...

Re:Currently? (3, Interesting)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:Currently? (1)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 6 years ago | (#20047293)

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 runinng the ECM, however I will dispute the engine block and transmission. They WERE essentially the same (this goes for the Audi TT 1, not the newer redesigned one). The 4 cylinder engine that VW developed way back when is essentially unchanged all the way through 2004. Sure they added a turbo and some more sensors and increased displacement, but if you were to look at shortblocks, to an untrained eye you'd have a hard time telling the difference.

Re:Currently? (2, Interesting)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 6 years ago | (#20047353)

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 of which are characteristics of systems with any significant degree of commonality. Even your the link you provide to a 500HP Beetle with 'standard' parts discusses the amount of work the conversions require.
 
Which is nothing at all like the situation the OP discusses. (Though he does overstate the case a little.)

Re:Currently? (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046929)

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 partners from reverse engineering an ECM despite the fact I could look at the board and see what it did. It really sucked having to troubleshoot a circuit you knew didn't do anything but it still had to pass testing. Companies re-using designs and parts within it's own organization just makes economic sense. I think these Automakers simply realized what an enormous task designing, developing, and maintaining a code base would be and decided it was in their best interest to collaborate. Not to mention if they open source it they might get some really cool plug-ins from third party developers. ;=) (I hope this emoticon is appropriate here)

offering Compatibility? (1)

CodeMunch (95290) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046221)

"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 year are different cup holders, body panels, and paint jobs.

Goddamn, you people are clever. (3, Insightful)

RandoX (828285) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Could make a better OBD2 (3, Informative)

GreenEnvy22 (1046790) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Re:Could make a better OBD2 (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046517)

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 my laptop via USB, search the net for likely causes, then troubleshoot and repair from there.

Re:Could make a better OBD2 (1)

rikkards (98006) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046653)

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

Re:Could make a better OBD2 (1)

Orange Crush (934731) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046981)

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 lean, but not poorly enough to trigger a CEL. This would be nice to know since it can be an easy fix (leaky hose somewhere) and improve performance and fuel efficiency. It'd be much nicer if all I needed was a USB cable and some FOSS diagnostic software rather than some stupid $300+ kit.

I support this product and/or service... (4, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 6 years ago | (#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....

Re:I support this product and/or service... (1)

c0d3h4x0r (604141) | more than 6 years ago | (#20047211)

I always wanted to get a Prius and cut the logo apart and stick an "M" in it.

Toyota Primus!

Chipping (1)

gilesjuk (604902) | more than 6 years ago | (#20046319)

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.

Further diminishing costs... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20046589)

I see this as a definite plus. First off, the non-scientific reason I like this idea is they're not running Microsoft Windows. No one needs that junk in their car.

The real interesting part of this is what it means for the cost of manufacturing a vehicle. Theoretically the cost of the software running the car will be distributed throughout the car companies. Therefore, all car companies will experience lowered cost of manufacture (especially if the software manages to replace some current part of the car)...and thus car prices should go down.

What about the stereo? (4, Insightful)

hcdejong (561314) | more than 6 years ago | (#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.

Car OS standards? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20046777)

I wonder if you troll in Germany, you'll be on Autobahn.
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