The many computers under the hood

Ben Johnson Sep 25, 2015
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The many computers under the hood

Ben Johnson Sep 25, 2015
HTML EMBED:
COPY

This week, car company Volkswagen came under fire for installing software in its cars that would automatically detect whether one of their vehicles was undergoing an emissions test.

“The company installed a so-called ‘defeat device,’ which is not a device like we think of devices,” says Ben Johnson, Marketplace Tech host. “It’s actually a piece of software or firmware. The software would recognize when an emission test might be happening to a vehicle and changed the vehicle’s emissions output so as to make the car seem like it had better emissions. Really, this a reminder that more and more of our cars are being driven by software.”

A few ways computers are in your cars: 

100

There can be up to 100 ECUs or electronic control units in cars these days performing a wide range of tasks. For example, it can deploy an airbag or decide whether to use electricity or gas in a Prius.

100 million

The Apollo 11 spaceship had 150,000 lines of code. Google’s mobile Android operating system? Twelve million. The modern car can have 100 million lines of code in it. 

6 miles

The distance between Ford’s research lab in Palo Alto, California, and Google’s HQ, further highlighting how cars and technology companies are increasingly consulting each other.

 

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.