Lancaster University

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Lancaster Researchers ask - Do You Trust the Electronics in Your Car?

11/27/2000 16:25:54

The Centre for Microsystems Engineering at Lancaster University has recently been awarded an exciting new contract to carry out research into the dependability of silicon chips in cars. Within a car, most if not all the electronics used for controlling systems such as the engine, suspension, security, safety and comfort are implemented using silicon chips. Over the next few years, their use will grow.

The grant for £170K, awarded by EPSRC, via the Foresight Vehicle LINK program, aims to build both on-line monitoring and fault recovery into the integrated electronics that control systems such as breaking, steering and suspension. The problem is that in most cases these chips operate in some of the most harsh conditions on the planet. This research will develop ways of integrating on-line monitoring, self-test and fault tolerance into these devices and in general develop ways of achieving aerospace quality at prices acceptable to the automotive industry.

The project is in collaboration with the Daewoo Motor Company, TRW Automotive Electronics (formerly Lucas) and Microcircuit Engineering.

'The key to this project', in the opinion of Andrew Richardson, Director of the Centre, 'is that we must find ways of duplicating the reliability found in aerospace applications at very low cost. Daewoo have already shown that if they had access to silicon chips and highly integrated electronics that simply wouldn't fail, the design of the modern car could change radically'.

The project also involves Derek Seward from the Department of Engineering, who will be acting as a safety consultant to the project.