Coding for cars

Tom James @ 17-02-2009

road_lightApparently the media and navigation systems of a high-end Mercedes now require more lines of code than a 787 Dreamliner:

Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner, scheduled to be delivered to customers in 2010, requires about 6.5 million lines of software code to operate its avionics and onboard support systems.

Alfred Katzenbach, the director of information technology management at Daimler, has reportedly said that the radio and navigation system in the current S-class Mercedes-Benz requires over 20 million lines of code alone and that the car contains nearly as many ECUs as the new Airbus A380 (excluding the plane’s in-flight entertainment system).

There is a considerably more awesome car than an S-class described in Heavy Weather by Bruce Sterling, but I can’t find my copy to tell you how many lines of code that needed (I remember it was specified somewhere).

[via Charles Stross][image Aitor Escauriaza from on flickr]


Boeing proposes faster, cheaper route to the moon

Stephen Years @ 25-09-2007

ares_orion_sm.jpg
Photo Credit: NASA/John Frassanito and Associates

Boeing is proposing a radical redesign for NASA’s planned return to the moon. Their proposal is both faster and cheaper than the current plan of record:

NASA’s current mission plan calls for the Ares V to send the new lunar lander and its payload into Earth orbit. Once there, Ares V would not only have to dock with the Orion crew vehicle (launched separately on the Ares I rocket) but also restart and provide the initial burn to send the assembled system into a trajectory toward the moon.

Boeing’s alternative would combine the Orion rendezvous with a pitstop for gas, allowing the Ares V to lift off from Earth with a much larger payload—and an empty lander. Boeing says this would allow NASA to deliver about three times as much mass to the lunar surface, and over fifteen times as much payload. What’s more, Ares V could then send the lander-Orion package all the way to lunar orbit with full tanks, rather than NASA’s current plan to use extra propellant in slowing down before soft landing.

I think that NASA as it exists today is an anachronism. When it comes to doing things fast and cheap, entrepreneurs will always beat out government bureaucracies.