Physical control backups (non Drive By Wire)

Discussions about other vehicles other than the Vibe & Matrix.
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Bookworm
Posts: 459
Joined: Fri Nov 05, 2010 11:21 am
Location: Houston, TX

Physical control backups (non Drive By Wire)

Post by Bookworm » Mon Aug 12, 2019 8:38 am

In a Crosstrek thread, having alternate control types for critical features was brought up - specifically, going all electronic vs having some features with a physical backup, such as the manual emergency brake.

It turns out that the Navy is discontinuing touch screen controls for their ships, as it was a major causative factor in a collision.

https://www.pcmag.com/news/370122/us-na ... m-controls

So, there's obviously something to be said for direct feedback control systems.

Right now, where I can see manufacturers or Congress trying to change things up are/were the following (some good, some bad, some just are):

1) Electronic window controls
2) All Electrical seat controls
3) Drive by wire cars (Tesla)
4) Electronic emergency brakes
5) Back-up cameras instead of large rear windows (and rear-view mirrors)
6) ABS systems (Yes, it's an example of a designed system taking over from training)
7) All electronic door locks (no manual access), including no keys on the outside - touch or fob only.
8) EFI - no ability to adjust anything, and if the computer goes out....
9) All electric fuel pumps

I'm sure there are a stack of others. Mind you, many of these I don't see as a problem. They simply are what they are - changes over time. I think a few are dangerous, such as turning the rear view mirror into a display instead of an adjunct, so you can't actually use it as a mirror, plus the concept of an all electronic parking/emergency brake. Others seem to be working better, such as the electronic fuel pumps. Not sure I like putting them _in_ the gas tank, but I haven't heard of anyone blowing their car into the air from the fuel pump, so it's apparently not that dangerous.

The key, however, is what do you do when the power goes out. If you're outside the car, how do you unlock a touch lock car, so you can open the hood to get to the battery? If you're _inside_ the car, how do you get out? If your electronics fail on the road, you generally have the e-brake and steering left, so you can get off of the road; the engine will also act as a slow brake (or fast one, if you have a standard and lift up on the clutch). With an all electric car, you get to sit and watch what happens :)

I know that one way to 'assist' would be to have some of the electronics isolated, with a secondary battery _just_ to maintain those systems for a few minutes in a critical situation.

So, suggestions? Comments?

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joatmon
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Re: Physical control backups (non Drive By Wire)

Post by joatmon » Mon Aug 12, 2019 11:18 am

1) Electronic window controls
I don't have a problem with these. I understand in an emergency, with total loss of electric, such as suddenly getting flooded, they can be a problem, but I really do like power windows, and a car with both manual and power windows would be odd. Not that it couldn't be done, but still odd

2) All Electrical seat controls
This one's not a big deal for me, either way. I've never had a car with power seats, bu I tend to be the only driver in my vehicles, and since I keep them all the way back, I don't forsee needing to adjust them in an emergency situation

3) Drive by wire cars (Tesla)
Both of my current vehicles have mechanical power steering and cable throttle. I would be really leery of electronic only steering. DBW throttle not as much

4) Electronic emergency brakes
I suppose to be semantic about it, some new cars come with electronic parking brakes, and they seem to have ignored any need for an actual emergency brake. As i said in that crosstrek thread, I have actually had catastrophic brake system failure (not in a vibe) at high speed, and having a mechanical emergency brake contributed to my being able to post this today (which some of you may see as a good thing or a bad thing ') ) Even though its only happened to me once in many years of driving , and driving a lot of different cars, some of which were in mechanical status where they probably shouldn't have still been on the road, I would miss a mechanical emergency brake in a new car if it wasn't there.

5) Back-up cameras instead of large rear windows (and rear-view mirrors)
Back up cameras are really useful, and I've driven various vehicles with no rear window, its ok once you get used to it if you have adequate side mirrors. However, when I look for a new car, being able to look back over my right shoulder to see whats there is an important factor. Te 1st gen Matrix gives better rear corner visibility than a 1st gen Vibe, but the Vibe's is way better than a lot of new cars. When I mentioned it to one car salesman, he went off about electronic blind spot detection. That's nice, butI still want to see for myself.

6) ABS systems (Yes, it's an example of a designed system taking over from training)
I have had my Vibe ABS engage when I didn't realize I was sliding on a fast stop on a wet road, makes an awful noise that's a real wake up call to drive slower. Luckily, I don't have enough first hand experience to say if ABS actually reduces accidents, but I tend to expect it does since it can give you a slightly lower insurance cost. While I would like to think that I am such a good driver that I never need ABS, I also think that nobody else on the road is, so in a way its reassuring to think that the car coming up fast on me has a good chance of having ABS.

7) All electronic door locks (no manual access), including no keys on the outside - touch or fob only.
Since I got a car with fob activated locks, I tend to use the fob almost all the time, but I do like being able to use a key. Even the push button start instead of turning the key is really strange to me.

8) EFI - no ability to adjust anything, and if the computer goes out....
I prefer EFI. Along with electronic ignition, computer control of fuel and spark allows us to have cars that are a lot more efficient and a lot less polluting, and still have decent performance. I spent a lot of time over the years rebuilding and tweaking carburetors, and adjusting mechanical ignition (points, dwell, timing, etc) Its really nice to just turn the key (or push the button) and have the car start, instead of remembering what to do with the throttle based on your perception of outside and engine temperature. I have never flooded an EFI car. I'm at a point where I need the car to work, and to behave normally, and I'm not going to be modding it to get a few extra horsepower (if I even could anymore)

9) All electric fuel pumps
I've had cars with each, and I've had mechanical fuel pumps go bad, and I've never had an electric one fail. I've also had vapor lock on a mechanical fuel pump car but never on an electric pump one. I do not claim my experience is typical. Anything can fail, and in modern cars, if a total electrical failure took out the fuel pump and all the rest of the computer controlled engine/tranny, then the fuel pump itself wouldn't be the biggest concern.


My current Vibe was made in the spring of 2002, its 17 years old now. There is a huge range of technology now available, it will be hard to find a new car that doesn't have a lot of it. I hope that things like blind spot detection, lane drift alerts, aren't too intrusive, and things like collision avoidance computer driven braking don't go off when not needed. Some of the new technology hasn't been around long enough to judge reliability, so getting a car with it is somewhat of a leap of faith, and I understand some might want to take that leap. Given the trend, tech control of vehicle functions will only increase in the future, so the things on your list will probably seem minor compared to what they'll come up with 5 years from now. Not sure what's practical to do about it though.

Bookworm
Posts: 459
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Location: Houston, TX

Re: Physical control backups (non Drive By Wire)

Post by Bookworm » Mon Aug 12, 2019 1:08 pm

ABS - the only time that ABS has gone off in my car is almost every time I park in my driveway. (shouldn't it be a parkway?) There's a slight rise then drop - when I hit that point, the brakes go NUTS.

I was more looking at what's changed, and some of the thought processes behind them - or lack thereof.

In a lot of cases, it seems like the point is assume that the worst case scenarios are the only scenarios, and abuse the automotive companies until they "do something about it." Much like still requiring trains to blow their horns at intersections. It made sense when people didn't have loud radios, and they had their windows down, (or were mostly pedestrian ) but not anymore. A high pitched steam whistle would penetrate better, if that's the point. Now, I think it's just there to try to wake people up in the houses nearby.

Perhaps the most worrying thought is that many of the newer technologies are being used as additional ways to abrogate responsibility.

"It's not my fault that I hit the car. My collision sensor didn't warn me there was someone in the next lane."

Big nuisance - automatic headlights, and daytime headlights. "OH my god! Thank goodness that bus had its headlights on! Without that, I'd never have seen a 10 foot tall, 8 foot wide, 30 foot long BRIGHT YELLOW turd filled with screaming kids! "

zbyers
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Re: Physical control backups (non Drive By Wire)

Post by zbyers » Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:38 am

I think electronic parking brakes are a big pain. A few people I know with them have had nothing but issue with it not engaging and/or disengaging.

Also, the keyless entry crap. Father-in-law has a '11 Maxima (maybe altima, same difference) and it has keyless entry. It sat for a few months, so the battery was dead , and of course it was locked. We ended up having to pry the bumper cover off, trying to get to the hood latch. It, too, had some hidden bolts so we couldn't undo the latch to open it. Luckily, the battery was visible and we were able to throw jumper cables on it unlock it, and then get into the car. We probably spent 2-3 hours messing with this. Had it just had a keyhole, problem would have been solved.
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