My First Experience With Car Automation

As a teenager I learned pretty much how cars work. Everything was completely mechanical. My first experience was some kind of automation in a car was with an Alfa Romeo, some 20 years ago. Bosch had developed a kind of engine management with flexible fuel injection for diesel engines, also called Common Rail. The principle was already common for gasoline engines, but it was new for diesel engines. It would guarantee a much more smoothly running diesel engine, which was also really necessary. Fiat was the first to implement it and they chose the Alfa 156. I had one of those.

At a certain moment when I left home, the warning light for the engine management lit up. Just a little red light, no further information. I drove immediately to the workshop, where they carted in a 19″ rack mounted PC (running Windows 3.1) and connected it to some hidden contact in my car. Very soon a range of messages showed up on the display, clearly coming from the car. This was interesting in itself, that the car logged specific status events about the engine that could be analyzed using the PC.

Windows 3.1 crashing
Windows 3.1 crashing

Also the error related to the red light showed up. When clicking on this message the PC crashed! Bummer…

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