Automobile

Development of the automobile electrical system

Where did it all begin?

The story of electric power can be traced back to around 600 BC when the Greek philosopher Thales of Miletus found that amber rubbed with a piece of fur would attract lightweight objects such as feathers. This was due to static electricity. It is thought that, around the same time, a shepherd in what is now Turkey discovered magnetism in lodestones, when he found pieces of them sticking to the iron end of his crook.

A chronological history

The electrical and electronic systems of the motor vehicle are often the most feared, but at the same time can be the most fascinating aspects of an automobile. The complex circuits and systems now in use have developed in a very interesting way. For many historical developments, it is not possible to be certain exactly who ‘invented’ a particular component, or indeed when, as developments were taking place in parallel, as well as in series.

Current developments

Most manufacturers are making incremental improvements to existing technology. However, electronic control continues to be used in more areas of the vehicle. The main ‘step change’ in the near future will be the move to 42 V systems, which opens the door for other developments. The main changes will be with the introduction of more X-by-wire systems. Telematics will also develop further. However, who really knows? Try the next section for some new ideas.

An eye on the future

The thing is, I intend to spend as much time sleeping in my car as possible, well, when traveling long distances anyway. The whole point of paying the extra money for the ‘Professional’ instead of the ‘Home’ edition of the onboard software was so I could sleep or at least work on long journeys. The fully integrated satellite broadband connection impressed me too. The global positioning system is supposed to be so accurate you can even use it for parking in a tight spot. Not that you need it to, because the auto park and recharge were good even on my old car.

Servicing the new car is going to be much easier. Evidently, all you have to do is take the car to the local service centre (or send it on its own) and they change the complete powertrain system for a new one. Apparently, it is cheaper to import new fully integrated powertrain and chassis systems from overseas than it is for our technicians to repair or service the old ones! I expect it will take over an hour for this though, so I will probably send the car during the night or when I am working at home.

Last word

 

I set off around the track, slowly at first because it felt so strange, but it was just fantastic to be able to control the car myself. It was even possible to steer as well as speed up and slow down. Fantastic, yawn, awesome … However, I still, yawn, stretch, and can’t figure out why the car has cameras watching my eyes.

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