Torque Shop

We used to hear about fuzzy logic a lot in the 1990s. What happened to that and is the technology still used in cars these days?

Those were the early days of electronic control in automotive systems.

Fuzzy logic is computing based on "degrees of truth" rather than "true or false". Carmakers used it to switch engine and transmission control to behave in a manner desired by the driver.

Several vehicle manufacturers developed systems for engine and transmission control that could recalibrate to adapt to a driver's style over just a few kilometres of driving.

Basically, the software "learns" to adjust throttle response and transmission shifts according to the driver's behaviour - even if the same driver decided to one day suddenly change his habits.

In the last three decades, however, automotive control systems have progressed further.

There are now so many highly precise micro-second responding sensors and incredibly fast-acting actuators to deliver exact responses of engine, transmission and now even chassis performance.

Electronic control processors are capable of accepting multiple high-speed inputs simultaneously from a variety of sensors, processing them and sending definitive command signals to electro/hydro-mechanical actuators (for example, damper valve or brake calipers or throttle position) that respond instantly.

Each action is delivered for optimal performance however the driver behaves.

Control systems now also encompass many safety related functions including acceleration, braking, cornering and steering inputs.

In many ways, this is, indeed, fuzzy logic.

Shreejit Changaroth

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 22, 2017, with the headline 'Torque Shop'. Print Edition | Subscribe