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Design007-Apr2018

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8 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I APRIL 2018 The first car I remember riding in was our 1962 Plymouth Valiant. It was an ugly blue, awkward-looking car with the outline of a spare tire emblazoned on the trunk. But it had a super cool push-button automatic transmis - sion and an AM radio that was also tuned by pushing buttons. For a toddler, this was a jackpot. I was told to never play with any of these buttons. Naturally, I wanted to push those buttons every time I rode in the car, and since there were no seat belts, I did what I wanted to do. And I wanted to be a gear-changing, radio- tuning toddler! I'd start pushing the buttons until I was threatened with bodily harm, which was how parenting was con - ducted in the '60s. Overall, I remember thinking, "What will they come up with next?" Of course, we now know that push-button auto- matic transmissions didn't work as planned. The linkage was prone to breakdowns. Mechanics hated them. They largely disappeared by the late '60s and were replaced by the very uncool automatic shifter on the steering column. Not every idea is a good idea. For another 25 years or so, the radio remained the only piece of electronics in most cars. Then came the advent of on-board computers, and soon there were all kinds of "idiot lights" that would tell you if you were nearly out of gas, or if your door wasn't closed properly. Now, we're all driving computers on wheels. My girlfriend's inexpensive 2015 Mazda has an entertainment system that no one could have dreamed of not long ago. The collision avoid - ance system makes it almost impossible to have an accident. It beeps if you touch the cen- ter line, or if another car is coming while you're backing up. It slows you down if the car ahead of you slows down. With her car's cruise control, you hardly ever have to use the brakes (I try to see how far I can go without using the brakes, which makes her nervous). There's supposed to be a crash alert system that will stop the car if you're about to slam into an overpass, but we haven't tested that out. Electronics is the big - gest "driver" (no pun intended) in the automo- tive market right now. The highlight of the 2018 Consumer Electron- ics Show autonomous vehicles and the artifi- cial intelligence (AI) and electronics related to their development. And now, 134 years after Thomas Parker built the first production elec- tric car in London, electric vehicles are finally going mainstream. Tesla gets points for having an autonomous electric car. What does all this mean for the PCB indus - try? It's good news, overall. We've all seen the predictions that electronics will make up 50% of the cost of every new car in 10 years or so. But there are a lot of challenges ahead, many of The Shaughnessy Report by Andy Shaughnessy, I-CONNECT007 Baby, You Can Drive My Car

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