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Beyond OBDII – Small, Dedicated, Aftermarket Onboard Computers

It’s time to let go of the limitation our tiny-screen phones and limited-character dedicated OBDII devices. Imagine pulling into your garage, and when your new onboard aftermarket computer is triggered by proximity to a WiFi node in your garage, the data from your recent outing is sent to your home Mac or PC, and all parameters for the drive are processed into a neat report that may let you know before a code is set that your thermostat is likely getting a little long in the tooth.

The report is emailed to your email account, and arrives at your phone (and your 14-year-old’s phone, because s/he is next in line to your Volvo and wants to ensure you’re treating it right) before you turn the car off.

Arduino OBDII display - isn't that beautiful?!

Beyond OBDII – Small, Dedicated, Onboard Computers

Volvo has already started on the newer generation of electronics designed for its cars. Consider the redesigned 2016 volvo XC90. When this vehicle was initially introduced 18 years ago, it has close to 3 dozen electronic control units; these small units received a variety of data from the car components and other sensors associated with car control.

Today, this volvo has over a 100 such electronic units that have the car a miniaturized PC. These 100 electronic units contain 1GB of memory which is more than 200 times what the original 2002 volvo had. The majority of the memory is utilized for infotainment, with about 10% being utilized for vehicle safety and the rest for other functions. Volvo’s engineers have focussed on core functions such as cameras to identify the road conditions ahead and analyzing radar data.

Over the past few years, software engineers have added rain sensors to the windshield wipers, and they have the ability to collect the external temperature with good accuracy such that a microcontroller automatically turns on the windshield defroster. Further these electronic units also help determine the roads for black ice and pools of water.


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