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This article is about controls for motor vehicles. For other uses, see control unit (disambiguation).
An ECU from a Geo Storm.

In automotive electronics, electronic control unit (ECU) is a generic term for any embedded system that controls one or more of the electrical system or subsystems in a motor vehicle.

Types of ECU include electronic/engine control module (ECM), powertrain control module (PCM), transmission control module (TCM), brake control module (BCM or EBCM), central control module (CCM), central timing module (CTM), general electronic module (GEM), body control module (BCM), suspension control module (SCM), control unit, or control module. Taken together, these systems are sometimes referred to as the car's computer. (Technically there is no single computer but multiple ones.) Sometimes one assembly incorporates several of the individual control modules (PCM is often both engine and transmission)[1]

Some modern motor vehicles have up to 80 ECUs. Embedded software in ECUs continue to increase in line count, complexity, and sophistication.[2] Managing the increasing complexity and number of ECUs in a vehicle has become a key challenge for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

Types of electronic control units[edit]

Key elements of an ECU[edit]

Design and Development[edit]

The development of an ECU involves both hardware and software required to perform the functions expected from that particular module. Automotive ECU's are being developed following the V-model.[1] Recently the trend is to dedicate a significant amount of time and effort to develop safe modules by following standards like ISO 26262.[3] It is rare that a module is developed fully from scratch. The design is generally iterative and improvements are made to both the hardware and software. The development of most ECU's are carried out by Tier 1 suppliers based on specifications provided by the OEM.

Testing and Validation[edit]

As part of the development cycle, manufacturers perform detailed FMEAs and other failure analyses to catch failure modes that can lead to unsafe conditions or driver annoyance.[4] Extensive testing and validation activities are carried out as part of the Production part approval process to gain confidence of the hardware and software. On-board diagnostics or OBD help provide specific data related to which system or component failed or caused a failure during run time and help perform repairs.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b National Instruments White Paper on Electronic Control Units
  2. ^ Ebert, Christof; Jones, Capers (2009-04-01). "Embedded Software: Facts, Figures, and Future". IEEE Computer Society Press. Retrieved 2010-09-15. 
  3. ^ Case, Lenny (October 2011). "Fast-tracking ECU development". Automotive Industries. 
  4. ^ "Failure and Damanage Analysis". Software and ECU. SGS. 

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_control_unit — Please support Wikipedia.
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Equipment World Magazine
Fri, 22 Aug 2014 07:03:45 -0700

To aid in meeting Tier 4 emissions standards, the excavators also feature a mass airflow sensor (MAF) that enables the electronic control unit to improve the management of the variable geometry turbocharger's (VGT) airflow. The MAF also uses the air ...
 
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Fri, 22 Aug 2014 07:03:03 -0700

Monitoring any changes to the car's traction is the system's electronic control unit (ECU). This takes into account driving behaviour, steering angle, throttle position and brake inputs and then determines the correct torque level for each axle. In ...
 
MIT Technology Review
Thu, 07 Aug 2014 21:00:17 -0700

An attacker must first find a way to exploit a vehicle system, then use that vulnerability to send a command to the electronic control unit (ECU), and finally get the ECU to execute the command. Because of the proliferation of wireless access in ...

Tech Times

Tech Times
Wed, 13 Aug 2014 17:55:34 -0700

A component within the Occupant Classification System (OCS) Electronic Control Unit (ECU) could fail, which could partially or completely disable the front seat passenger air bag. Should this occur in a crash where the airbag needs to deploy, there ...

Yareah Magazine

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Wed, 20 Aug 2014 08:33:45 -0700

The latest cars have an Electronic Control Unit (ECU), which controls the engine and records all the car performance data during the course of the weekend. Nigel can plug the Panasonic Toughpad FZ-M1 tablet into the car's ECU at any point to check that ...

VentureBeat

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Tue, 12 Aug 2014 07:09:00 -0700

Attackers have to find a way to exploit a system and then use that vulnerability to send a command to the electronic control unit. These flaws are a problem because it's hard to patch a car. Possible weaknesses include Bluetooth and cellular ...
 
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Wed, 20 Aug 2014 02:56:15 -0700

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Sun, 17 Aug 2014 09:07:30 -0700

Critical parts of the vehicle, including the electronic control unit for the engine and other safety systems, need to be protected against malicious attacks. Likewise for the large amounts of data the connected car will generate. Driver behaviour and ...
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