You are on page 1of 19


Before getting into thick of the things, I would like to thank the Almighty
who has always been so kind to me since I was born. Having thanked God, I
would like to thank the persons He created to help me out.
I express my heart-felt gratitude to “L.D. COLLEGE OF
ENGINEERING” for giving me such a fine opportunity to execute my seminar
in real-time and challenging environment. Especially I would like to thank
PROF. J M PATEL (guide & batch in charge) and PRO. P.D. SOLANKI
(head of dept.) for giving me their valuable time and assistance at any stage of
the project.
I would like to convey my sincere thanks to L.D.COLLEGE OF
ENGINEERING for providing me a wonderful opportunity to work with this

Nandania dilip


1 Introduction to sensor.
Advanced Vehicle Control Systems (AVCS /
Engine control unit

Modern ECUs

Electronic throttle control

Simplified Wiring

How Car Computers Work


Vehicles these days can hear, see, feel and smell. As the demand for
automotive electronic systems grows, so does the need for accurate
and reliable sensor components that provide data for these systems.
Passengers today are benefiting from comprehensive safety packages
and a host of other convenient and practical features that all rely on
sensor technology.
➢ Sensors:
Electronic sensors ensure that new vehicles are the safest cars on
the road. Some examples of sensor technology include:
• Quick-reaction crash sensors activate the front, side, and curtain
airbags, and the tension on the seatbelt.
• Seat occupancy detectors send a signal to prevent passenger seat
front and side airbags from deploying in the event of an
accident, if the seat is empty or if a special child's seat is on
• Acceleration sensors report if the vehicle is deviating off its
vertical axis and if it needs to apply the brakes to one, two or
three wheels.
• Outside temperature sensors send a signal when there is a risk of
black ice.
• Engine management system sensors provide information on
exhaust gas quality, and still others diagnose the condition of the
oil, so that service intervals can be determined more accurately.
• Height sensors detect the movements of an approaching vehicle
and automatically adjust the headlamps to prevent the drivers of
oncoming cars from being blinded.
• Anti-pinching sensors in the windows and sliding roof stop them
from closing at a pre-defined resistance level to prevent injuries,
especially to children traveling in the car.
• Sensors are used in conjunction with the Global Positioning
System (GPS) to tell the driver where he or she is at any given
• And more...

The number of sensors used in automobiles has risen dramatically

in the last decade. Current vehicles can contain 50-100 of them and
this number is continually growing. The integration of these sensors
allows vehicles to listen and react to the environment and provides the
driver with countless benefits.
The advent of sensor-driven technology has created a pressing need
for new standards to provide for interoperability, compatibility and
interchangeability. The standards process itself depends on input from
companies and people in many occupations including transportation
planners, systems engineers, traffic engineers, electrical engineers,
design engineers, telecommunication engineers, and programmers.
Global Engineering Documents and Information Handling Services
maintain these standards in multi-media formats.

Advanced Vehicle Control Systems (AVCS / AVEC)

To many people the subject of self-guided "automatic" automobiles has
a "science fiction" flavor typical of projects that are either far beyond the
state of the art or impractical from a cost/benefit standpoint. Actually,
recent advances in computers, sensors and other related technology
have made such a system feasible in the relatively near term and
enormous benefits can justify major development and deployment costs.
Advanced Vehicle Control Systems (AVCS or AVEC) is part of the
"Smart Highway" initiative (also known as Intelligent Vehicle Highway
Systems (IVHS) or Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) now
receiving considerable study worldwide.
If being able to take a snooze on the way to Schenectady were the only
advantage of an automated car guidance system it would be unlikely that
the very substantial development and deployment costs for such a
system would be justified in the relatively near future. An automated
system can have major advantages over the current system in the areas
of highway space utilization and safety as described below.
➢ AVCS Space Utilization Advantage
Human drivers are extremely inefficient in their use of highway space. A
typical automobile, when parked in a garage, occupies about 100 square
feet of space. Adding "overhead" in the form of areas to open the doors
and walk around the car brings the total to perhaps 175 square feet. Yet
this same automobile, when operated on the highway at 70 miles per
hour requires over 5000 square feet of space. Each commuter, from the
time he gets on the highway until he gets off requires an average
highway space exceeding one-eighth of an acre that "dynamically"
moves with him as he travels in order to operate at 70 mph. This is a
large amount of space compared to the space most people occupy to
live and work. Depending on the length of "rush-hour" and the length of
the average commute only a few other people can reuse the space
during peak traffic periods. At 70 mph, each car requires an average of
about 250 feet of longitudinal space in a highway lane 12 feet wide in
addition to a pro rata share of median strips, clover leafs, and
breakdown lanes. Few communities can afford the real estate and
construction costs associated with providing this much highway space
so, as the density of vehicles increases, traffic tends to slow down until
eventually bumper-to-bumper conditions are reached.
Traffic engineers consider that one lane of an optimum highway can
carry a maximum of about 2000 cars per hour. Capacity varies with
speed from about 750 cars per hour at 5 mph (bumper to bumper) to
about 1000 cars per hour at 70 mph. The maximum capacity occurs at
25 – 35 mph. The cost and other social impact of increasing highway
space in or around American cities is easy to imagine.
Why is such a large amount of space required? One major factor is
driver reaction time. If one were to write an equation for determining
headway (the space between cars on the highway), reaction time would
be a major term. Average reaction time for human drivers is probably on
the order of two seconds. An automated system could have dramatically
reduced reaction time and headway. Another factor is the precision of
human drivers. Notice that while cars are about 6 feet wide, highway
lanes are 12 feet wide. An automated system could be more precise and
therefore require less lateral space.
Although the dynamics of traffic flow, and the characteristics of tires,
engines, and steering equipment do require space to operate, by far the
largest requirements for highway space are caused by the
characteristics of the human vehicle drivers. An automated system could
have much faster reaction time and also other characteristics which
would dramatically reduce space requirements. The author has
estimated that an initial automated system could have space utilization
2.5 times better than the existing system or that two lanes could carry
the same traffic as five lanes carry today. This estimate assumes
existing vehicles and highways modified by addition of automation.
Eventually about 5 times better utilization could be achieved using
vehicles and highways specifically designed for automation.
In addition to the space advantage it is reasonable to believe that
automated guidance systems could safely operate at top speeds
substantially higher than the 70 mph typical in the U.S. today.

AVCS Safety Advantage

The existing automobile/highway system is extremely mature technology
having been under continuous development for 100 years. As such we
would expect safety advances to be governed by the limitations of
"diminishing return".
If we plot accidents, injuries, or deaths per vehicle mile as a function of
time (data are available since 1935) we would expect to see incidence
decreasing exponentially and approaching a fixed value as the
automobiles and highways approach "perfect" and we approach a
condition where all accidents are caused by drivers and not other system
faults. The data from Virginia is a reasonable approximation of this
model. The consequences of simply extending this curve indefinitely to
the right forty involve a staggering toll of deaths and injuries. Automobile
accidents are now the leading cause of death in certain segments of the
population. Currently, approximately 45,000 people die and 1,000,000
are injured in the US. annually. These rates have historically been
approximately constant as improvements in the system are offset by
increasing traffic. Future medical advances in the cure of diseases can
be expected increase the relative future impact of accidents on public
To the extent that we could replace safety related driver functions with
technology, an automated system could eventually be very substantially
safer than the existing system in that we could bring technology to bear
directly on a problem that is now virtually completely driver controlled.
Vehicle automation could therefore easily be the greatest public health
advance of the twenty-first century.

AVCS Feasibility Considerations

A vehicle guidance system capable of delivering on the promises
outlined above would necessarily have to be highly sophisticated and
presumably involve substantial electronics, computers, and software.
But, vehicle guidance is a very safety critical function. We certainly aren’t
going to deploy a new system that we couldn’t prove is safer than the
existing system. At the same time, cost is going to be a major factor. Is
our technology up to this task?
To explore this issue, let’s examine some other transportation systems.
The elevator was first automated in approximately 1940. Because
elevators are mechanically guided except for one degree of freedom and
other simplifying circumstances, automation could be accomplished
without electronics, much less computers. Train automation is somewhat
more difficult but also involves mechanical guidance. Mechanically
guided automobile systems have actually been proposed but would be
much too limited.
Guidance of the Wright brothers flyer (1917) was by means of cables
connecting the pilots hands and feet to the control surfaces. Modern
aircraft such as the Boeing 747 are guided in the same manner using
cables and pulleys with the addition of mechanical/hydraulic force
amplification to allow the pilot to control the much larger control surfaces.
However, in the 1980s, aircraft such as the Boeing 767 were introduced
where guidance is provided by a digital computer system. In effect the
computer and associated software controls the plane and the pilots
provide advice and direction to the computer via their controls. The
computer systems significantly improve safety by detecting and
overriding some types of pilot error. These computer systems (which
have substantial redundancy) are considered sufficiently reliable to be
used as the only means of guiding an aircraft carrying several hundred
people and had enough advantages to justify their development and
safety certification cost. Fighter aircraft and the Space Shuttle have
similar control systems.
Computer capability per dollar has historically improved extremely
rapidly. It is therefore not unreasonable to believe that computer systems
and associated components with adequate reliability for vehicle
guidance will be achievable for "reasonable" cost in the relatively near
Keep in mind that the potential benefits of AVCS are extremely large.
The savings in highway construction cost, real estate required for
highways, pollution, travel time, and reduced injury and death will justify
rather large development and deployment costs. Would you rather have
a manual Mercedes or an automated Chevrolet that would get you to
work in half the time with half the hassle?
AVCS Architecture Considerations
One possible approach to vehicle guidance automation would be to
simply replace the driver with a "robot" system that would perform some
of the same functions, only better, using existing highways. Daimler-
Benz has conducted studies of a system which uses computer analysis
of TV highway imagery for vehicle guidance. However, a "hybrid" system
in which some functions are performed by automation equipment in the
highway and other functions are performed by equipment in the vehicle
has major advantages and is virtually certain to be chosen for any
deployed system. It is assumed that the highway and vehicle systems
would communicate and cooperate in the execution of the guidance
task. Here are some scenarios illustrating potential features of a hybrid
Highways automation systems could have "machine readable" signs,
marks, or electronic signals to aid in guidance and supplement any
imagery analysis system. The author believes that a second,
independent, "backup" method of determining relative vehicle position
will be necessary in addition to imagery analysis in order to achieve
adequate safety.
Highways could centrally control traffic. Since the highway computer
network would have access to sensor data from each vehicle as well as
its own sensors it would "know" about conditions everywhere on the
highway. It could therefore direct traffic to most efficiently use highway
space on a regional basis as well as a lane-by-lane basis. For example,
visualize two lanes of traffic where one lane is blocked by construction.
In the existing system, each pair of drivers approaching the choke point
have to essentially negotiate which is going to go first – we all know what
that looks like in practice. In a centrally controlled system cars would be
directed to interleave well before the choke point. Sight distance would
not be an issue. Lateral space could be assigned by the central system
based on the size and dynamics of the vehicle as opposed to fixed
Economic Considerations
An automated vehicle control system would involve extensive technology
in areas where the U.S. has a lead such as computers, networks,
software, and aircraft-type systems. If the U.S. took a lead role in
developing vehicle automation technology and associated standards,
procedures, techniques, and regulations it could be expected to lead the
world in vehicle automation in a manner similar to the experience with
Incremental Deployment
It is unlikely that any near term automated vehicle system will be a
"hands-off", "take a nap on the way" system. Passenger aircraft still have
pilots. Subways still have drivers. Near term guidance systems will aid
and support drivers in a manner similar to the existing aircraft systems.
Indeed, one of the most interesting and complex questions to be
answered is how to design the interfaces between the automation
systems and the drivers for best human engineering.
Early automation systems will probably only accomplish part of the
guidance solution. For example, one proposed system would control
only the longitudinal "headway" distance to the next vehicle, an
advanced type of "cruise control". Such a relatively simple system could
achieve increased vehicle density and highway capacity while relieving
drivers of considerable traffic stress. Another incremental system
possibility would measure a candidate parking place, and then, if it was
big enough, automatically park the car, eliminating one of the more
unpleasant (but relatively simple to automate) driving chores.
A microcontroller (sometimes abbreviated µC, uC or MCU) is a small
computer on a single integrated circuit containing a processor core, memory,
and programmable input/output peripherals. Program memory in the form of
NOR flash or OTP ROM is also often included on chip, as well as a typically
small amount of RAM. Microcontrollers are designed for embedded
applications, in contrast to the microprocessors used in personal computers or
other general purpose applications.
Microcontrollers are used in automatically controlled products and devices,
such as automobile engine control systems, implantable medical devices,
remote controls, office machines, appliances, power tools, and toys. By
reducing the size and cost compared to a design that uses a separate
microprocessor, memory, and input/output devices, microcontrollers make it
economical to digitally control even more devices and processes. Mixed signal
microcontrollers are common, integrating analog components needed to control
non-digital electronic systems.
Some microcontrollers may use four-bit words and operate at clock rate
frequencies as low as 4 kHz, for low power consumption (milliwatts or
microwatts). They will generally have the ability to retain functionality while
waiting for an event such as a button press or other interrupt; power
consumption while sleeping (CPU clock and most peripherals off) may be just
nanowatts, making many of them well suited for long lasting battery
applications. Other microcontrollers may serve performance-critical roles,
where they may need to act more like a digital signal processor (DSP), with
higher clock speeds and power consumption.

Engine control unit

An engine control unit (ECU), also known as power-train control module
(PCM), or engine control module (ECM) is a type of electronic control unit
that determines the amount of fuel, ignition timing and other parameters an
internal combustion engine needs to keep running. It does this by reading values
from multidimensional performance maps (so called LUTs), using input values
(e.g. engine speed) calculated from signals coming from sensor devices
monitoring the engine. Before ECU's, air/fuel mixture, ignition timing, and idle
speed were directly controlled by mechanical and pneumatic sensors and
actuators. One of the very first attempts to use such a unitized and automated
"ECU" device to manage multiple engine control functions simultaneously was
created by BMW in 1939, for their BMW 801 14-cylinder aviation engine, and
known as the Kommandogerät, operated only by a single throttle lever.
Working of ECU

Control of fuel mixture

For an engine with fuel injection, an engine control unit (ECU) will determine
the quantity of fuel to inject based on a number of parameters. If the throttle
pedal is pressed further down, this will open the throttle body and allow more
air to be pulled into the engine. The ECU will inject more fuel according to how
much air is passing into the engine. If the engine has not warmed up yet, more
fuel will be injected (causing the engine to run slightly 'rich' until the engine
warms up).
Mixture control on computer controlled carburetors works similarly but with a
mixture control solenoid or stepper motor incorporated in the float bowl of the
Control of ignition timing
A spark ignition engine requires a spark to initiate combustion in the
combustion chamber. An ECU can adjust the exact timing of the spark (called
ignition timing) to provide better power and economy. If the ECU detects
knock, a condition which is potentially destructive to engines, and "judges" it to
be the result of the ignition timing being too early in the compression stroke, it
will delay (retard) the timing of the spark to prevent this. A second, more
common source, cause, of knock/ping is operating the engine in too low of an
RPM range for the "work" requirement of the moment. In this case the
knock/ping results from the piston not being able to move downward as fast as
the flame front is expanding, but this latter mostly applies only to manual
transmission equipped vehicles. The ECU controlling an automatic transmission
would simply downshift the transmission if this were the cause of knock/ping.
Control of idle speed

Most engine systems have idle speed control built into the ECU. The engine
RPM is monitored by the crankshaft position sensor which plays a primary role
in the engine timing functions for fuel injection, spark events, and valve timing.
Idle speed is controlled by a programmable throttle stop or an idle air bypass
control stepper motor. Early carburetor-based systems used a programmable
throttle stop using a bidirectional DC motor. Early TBI systems used an idle air
control stepper motor. Effective idle speed control must anticipate the engine
load at idle. Changes in this idle load may come from HVAC systems, power
steering systems, power brake systems, and electrical charging and supply
systems. Engine temperature and transmission status, and lift and duration of
camshaft also may change the engine load and/or the idle speed value desired.
A full authority throttle control system may be used to control idle speed,
provide cruise control functions and top speed limitation.
Control of variable valve timing
Some engines have Variable Valve Timing. In such an engine, the ECU controls
the time in the engine cycle at which the valves open. The valves are usually
opened sooner at higher speed than at lower speed. This can optimize the flow
of air into the cylinder, increasing power and economy.
Electronic valve control
Experimental engines have been made and tested that have no camshaft, but has
full electronic control of the intake and exhaust valve opening, valve closing
and area of the valve opening.[1] Such engines can be started and run without a
starter motor for certain multi-cylinder engines equipped with precision timed
electronic ignition and fuel injection. Such a static-start engine would provide
the efficiency and pollution-reduction improvements of a mild hybrid-electric
drive, but without the expense and complexity of an oversized starter motor.[2]
Programmable ECUs
A special category of ECUs are those which are programmable. These units do
not have a fixed behavior, but can be reprogrammed by the user.
Programmable ECUs are required where significant aftermarket modifications
have been made to a vehicle's engine. Examples include adding or changing of a
turbocharger, adding or changing of an intercooler, changing of the exhaust
system, and conversion to run on alternative fuel. As a consequence of these
changes, the old ECU may not provide appropriate control for the new
configuration. In these situations, a programmable ECU can be wired in. These
can be programmed/mapped with a laptop connected using a serial or USB
cable, while the engine is running.
The programmable ECU may control the amount of fuel to be injected into each
cylinder. This varies depending on the engine's RPM and the position of the
accelerator pedal (or the manifold air pressure). The engine tuner can adjust this
by bringing up a spreadsheet-like page on the laptop where each cell represents
an intersection between a specific RPM value and an accelerator pedal position
(or the throttle position, as it is called). In this cell a number corresponding to
the amount of fuel to be injected is entered. This spreadsheet is often referred to
as a fuel table or fuel map.
By modifying these values while monitoring the exhausts using a wide band
lambda probe to see if the engine runs rich or lean, the tuner can find the
optimal amount of fuel to inject to the engine at every different combination of
RPM and throttle position. This process is often carried out at a dynamometer,
giving the tuner a controlled environment to work in. An engine dynamometer
gives a more precise calibration for racing applications. Tuners often utilize a
chassis dynamometer for street and other high performance applications.
Other parameters that are often mappable are:
• Ignition: Defines when the spark plug should fire for a
• Rev. limit: Defines the maximum RPM that the engine is
allowed to reach. After this fuel and/or ignition is cut.
Some vehicle have a "soft" cut-off before the "hard" cut-
• Water temperature correction: Allows for additional
fuel to be added when the engine is cold (choke) or
dangerously hot.
• Transient fueling: Tells the ECU to add a specific
amount of fuel when throttle is applied. The term is
"acceleration enrichment"
• Low fuel pressure modifier: Tells the ECU to increase
the injector fire time to compensate for a loss of fuel
• Closed loop lambda: Lets the ECU monitor a
permanently installed lambda probe and modify the
fueling to achieve stoichiometric (ideal) combustion. On
traditional petrol powered vehicles this air:fuel ratio is
Some of the more advanced race ECUs include functionality such as launch
control, limiting the power of the engine in first gear to avoid burnouts. Other
examples of advanced functions are:
• Wastegate control: Sets up the behavior of a turbocharger's wastegate,
controlling boost.
• Banked injection: Sets up the behavior of double injectors per cylinder,
used to get a finer fuel injection control and atomization over a wide
RPM range.
• Variable cam timing: Tells the ECU how to control variable intake and
exhaust cams.
• Gear control: Tells the ECU to cut ignition during (sequential gearbox)
upshifts or blip the throttle during downshifts.
A race ECU is often equipped with a data logger recording all sensors for later
analysis using special software in a PC. This can be useful to track down engine
stalls, misfires or other undesired behaviors during a race by downloading the
log data and looking for anomalies after the event. The data logger usually has a
capacity between 0.5 and 16 megabytes.
In order to communicate with the driver, a race ECU can often be connected to
a "data stack", which is a simple dash board presenting the driver with the
current RPM, speed and other basic engine data. These race stacks, which are
almost always digital, talk to the ECU using one of several proprietary protocols
running over RS232 or CANbus, connecting to the DLC connector (Data Link
Connector) usually located on the underside of the dash, inline with the steering

Modern ECUs
Modern ECUs use a microprocessor which can process the inputs from the
engine sensors in real time. An electronic control unit contains the hardware and
software (firmware). The hardware consists of electronic components on a
printed circuit board (PCB), ceramic substrate or a thin laminate substrate. The
main component on this circuit board is a microcontroller chip (CPU). The
software is stored in the microcontroller or other chips on the PCB, typically in
EPROMs or flash memory so the CPU can be re-programmed by uploading
updated code or replacing chips. This is also referred to as an (electronic)
Engine Management System (EMS).
Sophisticated engine management systems receive inputs from other sources,
and control other parts of the engine; for instance, some variable valve timing
systems are electronically controlled, and turbocharger wastegates can also be
managed. They also may communicate with transmission control units or
directly interface electronically-controlled automatic transmissions, traction
control systems, and the like. The Controller Area Network or CAN bus
automotive network is often used to achieve communication between these
Modern ECUs sometimes include features such as cruise control, transmission
control, anti-skid brake control, and anti-theft control, etc.
General Motors' first ECUs had a small application of hybrid digital ECUs as a
pilot program in 1979, but by 1980, all active programs were using
microprocessor based systems. Due to the large ramp up of volume of ECUs
that were produced to meet the US Clean Air Act requirements for 1981, only
one ECU model could be built for the 1981 model year.[3] The high volume
ECU that was installed in GM vehicles from the first high volume year, 1981,
onward was a modern microprocessor based system. GM moved rapidly to
replace carburetor based systems to fuel injection type systems starting in
1980/1981 Cadillac engines, following in 1982 with the Pontiac 2.5L "GM Iron
Duke engine" and the Corvette Chevrolet L83 "Cross-Fire" engine. In just a few
years all GM carburetor based engines had been replaced by throttle body
injection (TBI) or intake manifold injection systems of various types. In 1988
Delco Electronics, Subsidiary of GM Hughes Electronics, produced more than
28,000 ECUs per day, the world's largest producer of on-board digital control
computers at the time.
Other applications
Such systems are used for many internal combustion engines in other
applications. In aeronautical applications, the systems are known as "FADECs"
(Full Authority Digital Engine Controls). This kind of electronic control is less
common in piston-engined aeroplanes than in automobiles, because of the large
costs of certifying parts for aviation use, relatively small demand, and the
consequent stagnation of technological innovation in this market.[citation needed]
Also, a carbureted engine with magneto ignition and a gravity feed fuel system
does not require electrical power generated by an alternator to run, which is
considered a safety advantage.
Electronic throttle control
Electronic throttle control (ETC) is an automobile technology which severs
the mechanical link between the accelerator pedal and the throttle. Most
automobiles already use a throttle position sensor (TPS) to provide input to
traction control, antilock brakes, fuel injection, and other systems, but use a
bowden cable to directly connect the pedal with the throttle. An ETC-equipped
vehicle has no such cable. Instead, the electronic control unit (ECU) determines
the required throttle position by calculations from data measured by other
sensors such as an accelerator pedal position sensor, engine speed sensor,
vehicle speed sensor etc. The electric motor within the ETC is then driven to the
required position via a closed-loop control algorithm within the ECU.
The benefits of ETC are largely unnoticed by most drivers because the aim is to
make the vehicle power-train characteristics seamlessly consistent irrespective
of prevailing conditions, such as engine temperature, altitude, accessory loads
etc. However, acceleration response may occasionally be slower than with
cable-driven throttle. The ETC is also working 'behind the scenes' to
dramatically improve the ease with which the driver can execute gear changes
and deal with the dramatic torque changes associated with rapid accelerations
and decelerations.
ETC facilitates the integration of features such as cruise control, traction
control, stability control, and precrash systems and others that require torque
management, since the throttle can be moved irrespective of the position of the
driver's accelerator pedal. ETC provides only a very limited benefit in areas
such as air-fuel ratio control, exhaust emissions and fuel consumption reduction,
working in concert with other technologies such as gasoline direct injection.
A criticism of the very early ETC implementations was that they were
"overruling" driver decisions. Nowadays, the vast majority of drivers have no
idea how much intervention is happening. Much of the engineering involved
with drive-by-wire technologies including ETC deals with failure and fault
management. Most ETC systems have sensor and controller redundancy, even
as complex as independent microprocessors with independently written
software within a control module whose calculations are compared to check for
possible errors and faults.
Anti-lock braking (ABS) is a similar safety critical technology, whilst not
completely 'by-wire', it has the ability to electronically intervene contrary to the
driver's demand. Such technology has recently been extended to other vehicle
systems to include features like brake assist and electronic steering control, but
these systems are much less common, also requiring careful design to ensure
appropriate back-up and fail-safe modes.
Failure modes
Before drive by wire technology was introduced, if a throttle stuck open a driver
could generally put a toe under the accelerator and lift up. Occasionally after
servicing or repair, the wire or cable between the accelerator and throttle would
not be correctly reinstalled causing sudden acceleration. However, with the
ETC, the movement is all done by electronic controls moving an electric motor.
But just moving the throttle by sending a signal to the motor is an open loop
condition and leads to poor control. Most if not all current ETC systems have a
closed loop system whereby the ECU tells the throttle to open a certain amount
according to an algorithm based on the geometry of the throttle. Then, if due to
dirt build up in the throttle bore or a damaged TPS a signal is sent from the TPS
to the ECU, the ECU can make appropriate adjustments to compensate, though
it might result in surging, hesitation or uneven idle.
There are two primary types of throttle position sensors: a potentiometer or a
Hall Effect sensor (magnetic device). The potentiometer is a satisfactory way
for non-critical applications such as volume control on a radio, but as it has a
wiper contact rubbing against a resistance element, and dirt and wear between
the wiper and the resistor can cause erratic readings. The more reliable solution
is the magnetic coupling that makes no physical contact, so will never be
subject to failing by wear.
This is an insidious failure as it may not provide any symptoms until there is
total failure. All cars having a TPS have what is known as a 'limp-home-mode'.
When the car goes into the limp-home-mode it is because the accelerator and
engine control computer and the throttle are not talking to each other in a way
that they can understand. The engine control computer shuts down the signal to
the throttle position motor and a set of springs in the throttle set it to a fast idle,
fast enough to get the transmission in gear but not so fast that driving may be
Recently, ETC has been suspected by some to be responsible for some incidents
of unintended acceleration in Toyota and Lexus vehicles. This is fiercely
disputed by Toyota, which blames unintended acceleration on owners, weather
mats, and most recently defective gas pedals (outsource production).
Smart Sensors

Clusters are now being used on a smaller scale for sensors. For
instance, a traditional pressure sensor contains a device that
outputs a varying voltage depending on the pressure applied to
the device. Usually, the voltage output is not linear, depends on
the temperature and is a low-level voltage that requires
Some sensor manufacturers are providing a smart sensor that
is integrated with all the electronics, along with a
microprocessor that enables it to read the voltage, calibrates it
using temperature-compensation curves and digitally outputs
the pressure onto the communications bus.

This saves the carmaker from having to know all the dirty
details of the sensor, and saves processing power in the
module, which otherwise would have to do these calculations. It
makes the supplier, who is most up on the details of the sensor
anyway, responsible for providing an accurate reading.

Another advantage of the smart sensor is that the digital signal

traveling over the communications bus is less susceptible to
electrical noise. An analog voltage traveling through a wire can
pick up extra voltage when it passes certain electrical
components, or even from overhead power lines.

Communication buses and microprocessors also help simplify

the wiring through multiplexing. Let's take a closer look at how
they do this.

Simplified Wiring
Multiplexing is a technique that can simplify the wiring in a car. In older cars,
the wires from each switch run to the device they power. With more and more
devices at the driver's command each year, multiplexing is necessary to keep
the wiring from getting out of control. In a multiplexed system, a module
containing at least one microprocessor consolidates inputs and outputs for an
area of the car. For instance, cars that have lots of controls on the door may
have a driver's-door module. Some cars have power-window, power-mirror,
power-lock and even power-seat controls on the door. It would be impractical to
run the thick bundle of wires that would come from a system like this out of the
door. Instead, the driver's-door module monitors all of the switches.
Here's how it works: If the driver presses his window switch, the door module
closes a relay that provides power to the window motor. If the driver presses the
switch to adjust the passenger-side mirror, the driver's door module sends a
packet of data onto the communication bus of the car. This packet tells a
different module to energize one of the power-mirror motors. In this way, most
of the signals that leave the driver's door are consolidated onto the two wires
that form the communication bus.

How Car Computers Work

Each year, cars seem to get more and more complicated. Cars today might have
as many as 50 microprocessors on them. Although these microprocessors make
it more difficult for you to work on your own car, some of them actually make
your car easier to service.
Some of the reasons for this increase in the number of microprocessors are:
• The need for sophisticated engine controls to meet emissions and fuel-
economy standards
• Advanced diagnostics
• Simplification of the manufacture and design of cars
• Reduction of the amount of wiring in cars
• New safety features
• New comfort and convenience features
In this article, we'll take a look at how each of these factors has influenced the
design of your car.



➢ How stuff