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The press is all over Volkswagen due to the revelation that some of their diesel cars are equipped with a piece of software designed to adjust emissions during testing.

The cheating process is fairly simple: When emissions are tested, e.g. during regular inspections, a standard OBD2 tester is connected to the car’s socket and it reads values from car’s sensors measuring carbon monoxide, oxygen, fuel intake and a load of other values. Even when the tester does not actually register as a peripheral in the car bus, it can be detected by the Engine Control Unit (ECU).

So Volkswagen engineers decided to automatically adjust the engine to much lower performance during the test, in order to have better emission values and thus lower taxes in many countries. This is ethically very questionable, but also understandable due to intense competition between carmakers.

I posit that the problem is predominantly in the ancient testing process. This can, and must be brought to this millennium.

In 2015, everything like cars can be connected and emissions can be measured in real time, in real driving conditions. The sensing algorithms should be in the cloud, so that adjusting or sending false data from one or two sensors would not suffice. Eventually the full lifecycle of the car shall be modeled in the cloud.

When the car manufacturers finally heed advice to fully spime their cars, we’ll see major advances in all engine technologies. This is due to continuous adjustment of the engine program to the environment, using real time data from millions of cars worldwide. At the end, it just needs different thinking. Perhaps Volkswagen could be creative in this way too.


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