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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).

Key elements of an ECU[edit]

  • Core
  • Memory
  • Inputs
    • Supply Voltage
    • Digital inputs
    • Analog inputs
  • Outputs
    • Relay drivers
    • H bridge drivers
    • Injector drivers
    • Logic outputs
  • Communication links
    • [*Housing

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.


  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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61 news items

The Hindu
Thu, 23 Oct 2014 22:12:24 -0700

The team has developed “Safety enhanced headgear” in which the helmet is provided with sensors to sense the activities such as strapping of the helmet, collision detection, sensing intoxication, direction and speed, electronic control unit ...


Thu, 23 Oct 2014 07:52:04 -0700

The patent protects a method of fluidly connecting a hydraulic actuator to an inlet for adjusting the pressure of hydraulic fluid in response to a down force control command received by an electronic control unit. The technology supports reduced wear ...
Hot Rod Magazine
Thu, 23 Oct 2014 03:12:06 -0700

... a 160-degree thermostat; and custom-burned chips for the stock GM ECU (electronic control unit). The fuel-supply system was said to be enhanced with a high-output, in-tank electric pump and adjustable fuel-pressure regulator. In 2007 the Robbs ...
The New Indian Express
Tue, 21 Oct 2014 17:33:45 -0700

The helmet can also be made to communicate with the two-wheeler fitted with sensors, an electronic control unit and a mobile communication system enabling the vehicle and the helmet to 'talk' to each other ensuring that riders are wearing a helmet ...

Yahoo! Maktoob News

Yahoo! Maktoob News
Mon, 20 Oct 2014 09:30:00 -0700

The port is easily accessed on most vehicles (usually under the driver's dash), and is used by mechanics to read trouble codes sent by the electronic control unit--the brains of the car. Once plugged in, the GPS tracking unit draws power from the car's ...


Tue, 21 Oct 2014 03:30:00 -0700

Bosch is working on a new ECU technology that could revolutionize the way information is displayed to the user.Its main plan is to showcase their front line technology in the bike business by presenting a new motorcycle Electronic Control Unit (ECU ...

The New Indian Express

The New Indian Express
Sat, 18 Oct 2014 17:33:45 -0700

The petitioners submitted that stage carriages which are equipped or fitted with a speed limit equipment, that which has an electronic control unit, need not be sealed by the motor vehicle department and hence there would be no question of stopping the ...
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