IBM is working on a “Telematics Control Unit” that will alert a driver or dealer when a potential malfunction has begun, according to CNET.com report on April 11. The unit identifies problems such as heats or leaks emanating from components, allowing the owner to repair the problem before it becomes a major liability. With the TCU information, dealers could order a part in advance of a repair appointment, for instance, or inform a driver that the gas leak is actually being caused by a loose gas cap rather than by a more dangerous crack in the fuel tank. The diagnostic data is also collected and analyzed to give auto manufacturers a better understanding of equipment failures, wear and tear and other problems. Electronics are expected to increasingly take over many driving functions (such as determining when it's safe to switch lanes) and even control traffic flow. IBM recently completed a pilot test of the technology with the U.S. Army's National Automotive Center and an unnamed automaker. It now plans to promote it to other car manufacturers, the CNET report said.
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