Title:
COMMUNICATIONS BASED ON VEHICLE DIAGNOSTICS AND INDICATIONS
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Methods and systems for communicating vehicle conditions based on vehicle component diagnostics and indications are provided. Specifically, various components of a vehicle may provide diagnostic information that can be collected and interpreted by a diagnostics module. The diagnostics module may determine to present the diagnostic information to a third party and/or vehicle occupant according to predetermined settings. Such diagnostic information may be presented in a conversational manner. Moreover, diagnostic information may be automatically evaluated in determining to provide course of action advice and other communications via the diagnostic module.



Inventors:
Ricci, Christopher P. (Saratoga, CA, US)
Application Number:
13/679680
Publication Date:
06/13/2013
Filing Date:
11/16/2012
Assignee:
Flextronics AP, LLC (Milpitas, CA, US)
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
701/1, 701/29.1
International Classes:
H04W4/90; G06F17/00
View Patent Images:
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20060287829Object proximity warning systemDecember, 2006Pashko-paschenko
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Primary Examiner:
WORDEN, THOMAS E
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Sheridan Ross P.C. (Denver, CO, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method of providing conversational vehicle diagnostic information to a receiving party, comprising: receiving a signal from one or more components of a vehicle, the signal representing one or more of a code, warning, and indication; interpreting a meaning associated with the signal; determining a conversational meaning based on one or more rules to represent the meaning associated with the signal; and providing the conversational meaning to an occupant of the vehicle.

2. The method of claim 1, further comprising: storing the meaning associated with the signal in memory; and determining to transmit the meaning associated with the signal to a third party.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein determining the conversational meaning further comprises: referring to a set of data, wherein the set of data includes a plurality of conversational meanings mapped to corresponding signals; and selecting an appropriate conversational meaning from the plurality of conversational meanings based on the set of data.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein the conversational meaning is provided to the occupant of the vehicle as a visual text output via a display associated with the vehicle.

5. The method of claim 1, wherein the conversational meaning is provided to the occupant of the vehicle as an audible output via at least one speaker associated with the vehicle.

6. The method of claim 2, further comprising: transmitting the meaning associated with the signal to the third party automatically and based at least partially on the one or more rules.

7. The method of claim 2, wherein providing the conversational meaning to the occupant of the vehicle, further comprises: providing additional information to the occupant of the vehicle, wherein the additional information is associated with the conversational meaning.

8. The method of claim 7, wherein the additional information includes one or more options provided for a selectable input from the occupant of the vehicle.

9. The method of claim 8, further comprising: transmitting the meaning associated with the signal to the third party based at least partially on the selectable input from the occupant of the vehicle.

10. The method of claim 9, wherein the third party is at least one of a vehicle manufacturer, dealer, repair facility, mechanic, and code recording storage.

11. The method of claim 1, wherein the signal is received via a remote node in wireless communication with the vehicle, and wherein the signal represents information relating to the one or more components of the vehicle.

12. The method of claim 11, wherein the remote node is associated with at least one of a vehicle manufacturer, parts manufacturer, dealer, repair facility, mechanic, and government entity.

13. A tangible, non-transitory computer readable medium having instructions stored thereon that, when executed by a processor, perform the method comprising: receiving a signal from one or more components of a vehicle, the signal representing one or more of a code, warning, and indication; interpreting a meaning associated with the signal; determining a conversational meaning based on one or more rules to represent the meaning associated with the signal; and providing the conversational meaning to an occupant of the vehicle.

14. The tangible, non-transitory computer readable medium of claim 13, wherein the method further comprises: storing the meaning associated with the signal in memory; and determining to transmit the meaning associated with the signal to a third party.

15. The tangible, non-transitory computer readable medium of claim 14, wherein the method further comprises: providing additional information to the occupant of the vehicle, wherein the additional information is associated with the conversational meaning, the additional information including one or more options provided for a selectable input from the occupant of the vehicle; and transmitting the meaning associated with the signal to the third party based at least partially on the selectable input from the occupant of the vehicle.

16. The tangible, non-transitory computer readable medium of claim 14, wherein the method further comprises: transmitting the meaning associated with the signal to the third party automatically and based at least partially on the one or more rules.

17. The tangible, non-transitory computer readable medium of claim 13, wherein the signal is received via a remote node in wireless communication with the vehicle, and wherein the signal represents information relating to the one or more components of the vehicle.

18. A system for providing conversational vehicle diagnostic information to a receiving party, comprising: a vehicle having one or more components; at least one sensor operatively connected to the one or more components; a memory; and a microprocessor executable diagnostic module operable to: receive a signal from at least one of the one or more sensors and the one or more components, the signal representing one or more of a code, warning, and indication; interpret a meaning associated with the signal; determine a conversational meaning based on one or more rules stored in the memory to represent the meaning associated with the signal; and provide the conversational meaning to an occupant of the vehicle.

19. The system of claim 18, further comprising: a conversational meaning presentation device, wherein the conversational meaning presentation device includes at least one of a display and a speaker, and wherein the conversational meaning presentation device is configured to provide the conversational meaning to the occupant of the vehicle.

20. The system of claim 18, further comprising: a communication transceiver, wherein the communication transceiver is configured to communicate with a remote node, the remote node associated with at least one of a vehicle manufacturer, parts manufacturer, dealer, repair facility, vehicle owner, mechanic, and government entity, and wherein the signal is received via the communication transceiver over a wireless network.

Description:

CROSS REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATIONS

The present application claims the benefits of and priority, under 35 U.S.C. §119(e), to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. Nos. 61/560,509, filed on Nov. 16, 2011, entitled “Complete Vehicle Ecosystem”; 61/637,164, filed on Apr. 23, 2012, entitled “Complete Vehicle Ecosystem”; 61/646,747, filed on May 14, 2012, entitled “Branding of Electrically Propelled Vehicles Via the Generation of Specific Operating Sounds”; 61/653,275, filed on May 30, 2012, entitled “Vehicle Application Store for Console”; 61/653,264, filed on May 30, 2012, entitled “Control of Device Features Based on Vehicle State”; 61/653,563, filed on May 31, 2012, entitled “Complete Vehicle Ecosystem”; 61/663,335, filed on Jun. 22, 2012, entitled “Complete Vehicle Ecosystem”; 61/672,483, filed on Jul. 17, 2012, entitled “Vehicle Climate Control”; and 61/714,016, filed on Oct. 15, 2012, entitled “Vehicle Middleware.” The entire disclosures of the applications listed above are hereby incorporated by reference, in their entirety, for all that they teach and for all purposes.

This application is also related to U.S. patent application Ser. Nos. 13/420,236, filed on Mar. 14, 2012, entitled, “Configurable Vehicle Console”; 13/420,240, filed on Mar. 14, 2012, entitled “Removable, Configurable Vehicle Console”; 13/462,593, filed on May 2, 2012, entitled “Configurable Dash Display”; 13/462,596, filed on May 2, 2012, entitled “Configurable Heads-Up Dash Display”; ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Implementation of Conquest Functionality in Automotive Console” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-228); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Gesture Recognition for On-Board Display” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-229); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Vehicle Application Store for Console” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-230); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Sharing Applications/Media Between Car and Phone (Hydroid)” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-231); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “In-Cloud Connection for Car Multimedia” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-232); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Music Streaming” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-233); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Control of Device Features Based on Vehicle State” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-234); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Insurance Tracking” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-235); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Law Breaking/Behavior Sensor” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-236); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Etiquette Suggestion” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-237); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Parking Space Finder Based on Parking Meter Data” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-238); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Parking Meter Expired Alert” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-239); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Object Sensing (Pedestrian Avoidance/Accident Avoidance)” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-240); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Proximity Warning Relative to Other Cars” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-241); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Street Side Sensors” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-242); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Car Location” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-243); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Universal Bus in the Car” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-244); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Mobile Hot Spot/Router/Application Share Site or Network” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-245); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Universal Console Chassis for the Car” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-246); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Middleware” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-247); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Real Time Traffic” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-248); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Map Updating” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-249); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Felon Identifier” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-251); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Behavioral Tracking and Vehicle Applications” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-252); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Improvements to Controller Area Network Bus” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-314); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Location Information Exchange Between Vehicle and Device” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-315); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “In Car Communication Between Devices” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-316); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Configurable Hardware Unit for Car Systems” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-317); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Feature Recognition for Configuring a Vehicle Console and Associated Devices” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-318); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Configurable Vehicle Console” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-412); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Configurable Dash Display” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-413); ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Configurable Heads-Up Dash Display” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-414); and ______, filed on Nov. 16, 2012, entitled “Removable, Configurable Vehicle Console” (Attorney Docket No. 6583-415). The entire disclosures of the applications listed above are hereby incorporated by reference, in their entirety, for all that they teach and for all purposes.

BACKGROUND

Whether using private, commercial, or public transport, the movement of people and/or cargo has become a major industry. In today's interconnected world, daily travel is essential to engaging in commerce. Commuting to and from work can account for a large portion of a traveler's day. As a result, vehicle manufacturers have begun to focus on making this commute, and other journeys, more enjoyable.

Currently, vehicle manufacturers attempt to entice travelers to use a specific conveyance based on any number of features. Most of these features focus on vehicle safety, or efficiency. From the addition of safety-restraints, air-bags, and warning systems to more efficient engines, motors, and designs, the vehicle industry has worked to appease the supposed needs of the traveler. Recently, however, vehicle manufactures have shifted their focus to user and passenger comfort as a primary concern. Making an individual more comfortable while traveling instills confidence and pleasure in using a given vehicle, increasing an individual's preference for a given manufacturer and/or vehicle type.

One way to instill comfort in a vehicle is to create an environment within the vehicle similar to that of an individual's home or place of comfort. Integrating features in a vehicle that are associated with comfort found in an individual's home can ease a traveler's transition from home to vehicle. Several manufacturers have added comfort features in vehicles such as the following: leather seats, adaptive and/or personal climate control systems, music and media players, ergonomic controls, and in some cases Internet connectivity. However, because these manufacturers have added features to a conveyance, they have built comfort around a vehicle and failed to build a vehicle around comfort.

Modern vehicles use a number of communication systems and/or networks. Each of these communication systems and/or networks may have a bus structure that is open or proprietary. Each of these buses may also be specifically designed to work in a vehicle or may be available as a general communication protocol. These communication systems and/or networks connect the various individual components of the vehicles through their respective buses. Examples of proprietary vehicle bus architecture include Controller Area Network (CAN) Bus, Local Interconnect Network (LIN) Bus, and the various Original Equipment manufacturer (OEM) Bus among others. Examples of open and general bus architecture include wired or wireless Ethernet and Low-Voltage Differential Signaling (LVDS) among others.

As usage of the CAN standard evolves, many vehicles and systems implementing CAN are using both a high-speed and a low-speed CAN bus in parallel. The high-speed CAN bus carries information that is vital for vehicle operation or safety and is delivered to various part of the vehicle or system in substantially real time. For example, the high-speed CAN bus would be used in a situation where an airbag deploys. When sensors in the bumper or at the front of the vehicle indicate that the vehicle has been involved in a frontal collision, the sensors can send priority information via the high-speed CAN bus to the airbag deployment unit to deploy the airbag. The low-speed CAN bus would be used for other less critical applications.

A number of extensions have been proposed and used to extend the capabilities of the various bus architectures. For example, On-Board Diagnostics (OBD) adds support for requesting data from vehicle components for diagnostics purposes using Parameter Identifiers (PIDs). While OBD is designed to work with CAN bus, OBD can be implemented to work with other general and/or OEM specific buses. Further, specific vehicle components such as the Engine Control Unit (ECU), Transmission Control Unit (TCU), Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), and generally Body Control Modules (BCMs) can have specific protocol extensions to work with the various bus architectures. Further, extensions to the bus architectures are needed to support carrying information regarding various environmental type issues such as emissions information to comply with various government regulation mandates.

Vehicles, particularly passenger vehicles, are evolving rapidly with emerging safety, entertainment, and communication technologies. Existing vehicle bus protocols, which are largely designed for safety, are generally unsuitable for other non-safety communications, due to low bus bandwidth and transmission speed. There are therefore various needs in the art including improving information flow between vehicle components, leveraging the various communication systems and/or networks in the art to enhance vehicle safety, data security, and/or data processing, and providing remote authorized third party (e.g., peace officers, vehicle manufacturers, vehicle security services, and owners) access to a vehicle's functions and state information while maintaining security against unauthorized parties and components.

SUMMARY

There is a need for a vehicle ecosystem that can integrate both physical and mental comforts while seamlessly operating with current electronic devices to result in an intuitive and immersive user experience. These and other needs are addressed by the various aspects, embodiments, and/or configurations of the present disclosure. Also, while the disclosure is presented in terms of exemplary embodiments, it should be appreciated that individual aspects of the disclosure can be separately claimed.

A method and system for diagnosing and communicating events associated with one or more components of vehicle is described. In general, a vehicle may provide information regarding its recorded and/or monitored system and component states via a self-diagnostic and/or reporting capability. Examples of these system and/or component states may include, but are not limited to, a vehicle's fuel system, emissions, ignition system, speed controls, motor/engine data, transmission, computer system(s), Engine Control Unit (“ECU”) data, real-time monitoring, and the like. In some cases, this data may be provided via the vehicle's standardized diagnostics module (e.g., via the On-Board Diagnostics (“OBD”), OBD-II, Enhanced OBD (“EOBD”), EOBD-II, and/or country-specific OBD modules, and the like). Additionally or alternatively, the data may be collected, monitored, and even stored via another data collection mechanism that is in communication with one or more vehicle components via the Controller Area Network Bus (“CAN Bus”), or equivalent communications protocol, and an associated memory.

It is an aspect of the present disclosure that certain vehicle system state information may be interpreted and presented to a vehicle user/passenger. In some embodiments, the presentation of information to a user/passenger may include a conversational translation of vehicle diagnostic information, or events. For example, a vehicle may detect through its various diagnostic equipment that an oxygen sensor has failed. In lieu of, or in addition to, activating a flashing “Check Engine” indicator (e.g., a code that may be used by some car manufacturers to indicate an oxygen sensor failure), embodiments of the present disclosure are directed to providing a conversational translation of the failure by providing a description of the failure. In other words, the description may state “An Oxygen Sensor Failure Has Been Detected.” It is anticipated that the information in this description may be provided to a user/passenger by output that is visual, audible, tactile, and/or combinations thereof. As can be expected, an audible output of this information may be provided by one or more associated speakers and/or sound transducers. The visual output may be provided to a console, dash display, and/or associated device (e.g., smart-phone, PDA, PC, Tablet PC, Apple iPad®, Apple iPhone®, Android® phone, Android® tablet, and/or other portable electronic device). Additionally or alternatively, this information may be communicated to a third party such as a repair facility, garage, manufacturer, dealership, and/or other party. In some embodiments, the presentation and/or communication of information may be made automatically in response to detecting an event.

In some embodiments, the diagnostics module may determine that a specific condition (e.g., failure, warning, indication, etc.) should be coupled with additional information for the benefit of a receiving party (e.g., a vehicle occupant, third party, remote node, etc.). This additional information may be used to help diagnose a greater problem associated with the vehicle. Among other things, information may be recorded that relates to the driving behavior of an individual prior to and/or after a specific condition is detected. For example, information may be recorded about a vehicle operator who has increased in speed and used the brakes within a given time period. In this case, data, such as a vehicle's gravitational-force (G-Force), pitch, yaw, location/orientation, engine temperature, and the like, may be used alone or together to determine possible causes of the observed specific condition. This information may be sent to a third party (e.g., vehicle manufacturer, dealer, repair facility, remote node, mechanic, code recording storage, etc.) and/or presented to at least one vehicle occupant (e.g., a vehicle operator).

Other examples of additional information that can be provided to a receiving party may include comment, suggestion, options, general information, combinations thereof, and/or other information related to an observed specific condition. For instance, stress/strain gages, force transducers, and/or accelerometers may determine that a vehicle has been exposed to a certain stress level that is above a predetermined limit. As such, the diagnostic module may provide a communication to a receiving party that includes a comment and suggestion. In this example the communication may output the following communication, “The vehicle has suffered stress above normal limits, please consider driving more carefully.”

In one embodiment, the additional information may be provided to a receiving party for the purposes of seeking input from the receiving party. For example, a diagnostic module may determine that a specific fault combination associated with engine failure has been detected. In response, the diagnostic module may provide a communication of the information and ask for user input regarding a next step. In this case, the diagnostic module may present the following question “Would you like to send data to a repair facility regarding the fault data recently recorded?” In the event that a user answers in the affirmative to this question, the diagnostic module may prompt the user for further information regarding a choice of repair facility. As can be expected, user input may be provided via speech, gesture, physical input, display selection, and the like.

Additionally or alternatively, the diagnostic module may utilize geographical vehicle location information and stored vendor/repair facility information to provide one or more choices to the user. The diagnostic module may suggest a repair facility and/or other nearby services/vendors based on a geographical location of the vehicle. For instance, the diagnostic module may provide the user with the following communication, “You are close to three repair facilities.” In one embodiment, the diagnostic module may filter suggestions based on stored ratings. For instance, the communication may be provided to a user as follows, “You are close to three repair facilities, two of these repair facilities have a rating of three out of four stars and above. Would you like to make an appointment?”

In another embodiment, the diagnostic module may communicate with one or more repair facilities to determine facility information such as component/system inventory levels, repair scheduling, time to repair, costs, and/or the like. As can be appreciated, this facility information may be communicated to a vehicle occupant via the diagnostic module. Based on the facility information, the diagnostic module may determine to present a communication to a user. Additionally or alternatively, the diagnostic module may automatically send data, schedule appointments, and/or determine to provide an informative communication, based on predetermined settings/rules.

The phrases “at least one”, “one or more”, and “and/or” are open-ended expressions that are both conjunctive and disjunctive in operation. For example, each of the expressions “at least one of A, B and C”, “at least one of A, B, or C”, “one or more of A, B, and C”, “one or more of A, B, or C” and “A, B, and/or C” means A alone, B alone, C alone, A and B together, A and C together, B and C together, or A, B and C together.

The term “a” or “an” entity refers to one or more of that entity. As such, the terms “a” (or “an”), “one or more” and “at least one” can be used interchangeably herein. It is also to be noted that the terms “comprising”, “including”, and “having” can be used interchangeably.

The term “automatic” and variations thereof, as used herein, refers to any process or operation done without material human input when the process or operation is performed. However, a process or operation can be automatic, even though performance of the process or operation uses material or immaterial human input, if the input is received before performance of the process or operation. Human input is deemed to be material if such input influences how the process or operation will be performed. Human input that consents to the performance of the process or operation is not deemed to be “material.”

The term “automotive navigation system” is a satellite navigation system designed for use in automobiles. It typically uses a GPS navigation device to acquire position data to locate the user on a road in the unit's map database. Using the road database, the unit can give directions to other locations along roads also in its database. Dead reckoning using distance data from sensors attached to the drivetrain, a gyroscope and an accelerometer can be used for greater reliability, as GPS signal loss and/or multipath can occur due to urban canyons or tunnels.

The term “bus” and variations thereof, as used herein, refers to a subsystem that transfers information and/or data between various components. A bus generally refers to the collection communication hardware interface, interconnects, bus architecture, and/or protocol defining the communication scheme for a communication system and/or communication network. A bus may also be specifically refer to a part of a communication hardware that interfaces the communication hardware with the interconnects that connect to other components of the corresponding communication network. The bus may be for a wired network, such as a physical bus, or wireless network, such as part of an antenna or hardware that couples the communication hardware with the antenna. A bus architecture supports a defined format in which information and/or data is arranged when sent and received through a communication network. A protocol may define the format and rules of communication of a bus architecture.

The terms “communication device,” “smartphone,” and “mobile device,” and variations thereof, as used herein, are used interchangeably and include any type of device capable of communicating with one or more of another device and/or across a communications network, via a communications protocol, and the like. Exemplary communication devices may include but are not limited to smartphones, handheld computers, laptops, netbooks, notebook computers, subnotebooks, tablet computers, scanners, portable gaming devices, phones, pagers, GPS modules, portable music players, and other Internet-enabled and/or network-connected devices.

The term “communication system” or “communication network” and variations thereof, as used herein, refers to a collection of communication components capable of one or more of transmission, relay, interconnect, control, or otherwise manipulate information or data from at least one transmitter to at least one receiver. As such, the communication may include a range of systems supporting point-to-point to broadcasting of the information or data. A communication system may refer to the collection of individual communication hardware as well as the interconnects associated with and connecting the individual communication hardware. Communication hardware may refer to dedicated communication hardware or may refer a processor coupled with a communication means (e.g., an antenna) and running software capable of using the communication means to send a signal within the communication system. Interconnect refers some type of wired or wireless communication link that connects various components, such as communication hardware, within a communication system. A communication network may refer to a specific setup of a communication system with the collection of individual communication hardware and interconnects having some definable network topography. A communication network may include wired and/or wireless network having a pre-set to an ad hoc network structure.

The term “computer-readable medium” as used herein refers to any tangible storage and/or transmission medium that participate in providing instructions to a processor for execution. Such a medium may take many forms, including but not limited to, non-volatile media, volatile media, and transmission media. Non-volatile media includes, for example, NVRAM, or magnetic or optical disks. Volatile media includes dynamic memory, such as main memory. Common forms of computer-readable media include, for example, a floppy disk, a flexible disk, hard disk, magnetic tape, or any other magnetic medium, magneto-optical medium, a CD-ROM, any other optical medium, punch cards, paper tape, any other physical medium with patterns of holes, a RAM, a PROM, and EPROM, a FLASH-EPROM, a solid state medium like a memory card, any other memory chip or cartridge, a carrier wave as described hereinafter, or any other medium from which a computer can read. A digital file attachment to e-mail or other self-contained information archive or set of archives is considered a distribution medium equivalent to a tangible storage medium. When the computer-readable media is configured as a database, it is to be understood that the database may be any type of database, such as relational, hierarchical, object-oriented, and/or the like. Accordingly, the disclosure is considered to include a tangible storage medium or distribution medium and prior art-recognized equivalents and successor media, in which the software implementations of the present disclosure are stored.

The terms “dash” and “dashboard” and variations thereof, as used herein, are used interchangeably and include any panel and/or area of a vehicle disposed adjacent to an operator, user, and/or passenger. Typical dashboards may include but are not limited to one or more control panel, instrument housing, head unit, indicator, gauge, meter, light, audio equipment, computer, screen, display, HUD unit, and graphical user interface.

The terms “determine,” “calculate,” and “compute,” and variations thereof, as used herein, are used interchangeably and include any type of methodology, process, mathematical operation or technique.

The term “display” refers to a portion of a screen used to display the output of a computer to a user.

The term “displayed image” or “displayed object” refers to an image produced on the display. A typical displayed image is a window or desktop or portion thereof, such as an icon. The displayed image may occupy all or a portion of the display.

The term “module” as used herein refers to any known or later developed hardware, software, firmware, artificial intelligence, fuzzy logic, or combination of hardware and software that is capable of performing the functionality associated with that element.

It shall be understood that the term “means” as used herein shall be given its broadest possible interpretation in accordance with 35 U.S.C., Section 112, Paragraph 6. Accordingly, a claim incorporating the term “means” shall cover all structures, materials, or acts set forth herein, and all of the equivalents thereof. Further, the structures, materials or acts and the equivalents thereof shall include all those described in the summary of the invention, brief description of the drawings, detailed description, abstract, and claims themselves.

The term “satellite positioning system receiver” refers to a wireless receiver or transceiver to receive and/or send location signals from and/or to a satellite positioning system, such as the Global Positioning System (“GPS”) (US), GLONASS (Russia), Galileo positioning system (EU), Compass navigation system (China), and Regional Navigational Satellite System (India).

The term “screen,” “touch screen,” or “touchscreen” refers to a physical structure that enables the user to interact with the computer by touching areas on the screen and provides information to a user through a display. The touch screen may sense user contact in a number of different ways, such as by a change in an electrical parameter (e.g., resistance or capacitance), acoustic wave variations, infrared radiation proximity detection, light variation detection, and the like. In a resistive touch screen, for example, normally separated conductive and resistive metallic layers in the screen pass an electrical current. When a user touches the screen, the two layers make contact in the contacted location, whereby a change in electrical field is noted and the coordinates of the contacted location calculated. In a capacitive touch screen, a capacitive layer stores electrical charge, which is discharged to the user upon contact with the touch screen, causing a decrease in the charge of the capacitive layer. The decrease is measured, and the contacted location coordinates determined. In a surface acoustic wave touch screen, an acoustic wave is transmitted through the screen, and the acoustic wave is disturbed by user contact. A receiving transducer detects the user contact instance and determines the contacted location coordinates. The touch screen may or may not include a proximity sensor to sense a nearness of object, such as a user digit, to the screen.

The term “vehicle” as used herein includes any conveyance, or model of a conveyance, where the conveyance was originally designed for the purpose of moving one or more tangible objects, such as people, animals, cargo, and the like. The term “vehicle” does not require that a conveyance moves or is capable of movement. Typical vehicles may include but are in no way limited to cars, trucks, motorcycles, busses, automobiles, trains, railed conveyances, boats, ships, marine conveyances, submarine conveyances, airplanes, space craft, flying machines, human-powered conveyances, and the like.

The preceding is a simplified summary of the disclosure to provide an understanding of some aspects of the disclosure. This summary is neither an extensive nor exhaustive overview of the disclosure and its various aspects, embodiments, and/or configurations. It is intended neither to identify key or critical elements of the disclosure nor to delineate the scope of the disclosure but to present selected concepts of the disclosure in a simplified form as an introduction to the more detailed description presented below. As will be appreciated, other aspects, embodiments, and/or configurations of the disclosure are possible utilizing, alone or in combination, one or more of the features set forth above or described in detail below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 depicts a vehicle in accordance with one embodiment of the present disclosure;

FIG. 2 is a block diagram of a processing module in accordance with one embodiment of the present disclosure;

FIG. 3 depicts a vehicle implementing processing modules configured in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure;

FIG. 4 is a block diagram of a computational system in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure;

FIG. 5 is a block diagram of a vehicle computational system in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure;

FIG. 6 depicts a flow diagram in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure; and

FIG. 7 depicts a flow diagram in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure.

In the appended figures, similar components and/or features may have the same reference label. Further, various components of the same type may be distinguished by following the reference label by a letter that distinguishes among the similar components. If only the first reference label is used in the specification, the description is applicable to any one of the similar components having the same first reference label irrespective of the second reference label.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Presented herein are embodiments of a vehicle diagnostics and indication communication system. The diagnostic system can comprise one device or a compilation of devices. Furthermore, the diagnostic system may utilize on-board communication devices (e.g., displays, consoles, speakers, tactile sound transducers, and/or other components of a connected vehicle), and/or external communication devices, such as cellular telephones, or other smart devices. These communication devices may be employed to send and receive data and/or communicate indications and/or diagnostic information to a receiving party. In some embodiments, the communication device, or devices, can receive user input in unique ways. As described herein, the device(s) may be electrical, mechanical, electro-mechanical, software-based, and/or combinations thereof.

For purposes of explanation, numerous details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of the present invention. It should be appreciated, however, that the present invention may be practiced in a variety of ways beyond the specific details set forth herein.

Referring to FIG. 1, the vehicle 100 includes, among many components common to vehicles, wheels 104, a power source 108 (such as an engine, motor, or energy storage system (e.g., battery or capacitive energy storage system)), a manual or automatic transmission 112, a manual or automatic transmission gear controller 116, a power controller 120 (such as a throttle), a braking system 136, a steering wheel 140, a display panel 144 (e.g., a dashboard displaying information regarding components in vehicle 100), and an occupant seating system 148.

Other components in vehicle 100 include communication components such as a wireless signal receiver/transmitter 152 to receive, and/or transmit, wireless signals between signal sources such as roadside beacons, and other electronic roadside devices, remote nodes, one or more third parties, a vehicle occupant, and a satellite positioning system receiver 156 (e.g., a Global Positioning System (“GPS”) (US), GLONASS (Russia), Galileo positioning system (EU), Compass navigation system (China), and Regional Navigational Satellite System (India) receiver).

The vehicle 100 also includes a number of control units and sensors for the various components of vehicle 100. Exemplary control units and sensors include wheel state sensor 160 to sense one or more of vehicle speed, acceleration, deceleration, wheel rotation, wheel speed (e.g., wheel revolutions-per-minute), wheel slip, and the like. Power source controller and energy output sensor 164 controls the power source and to senses a power output of the power source 108. Example aspects of power source controller and energy output sensor 164 include balancing the mixture of fuel (e.g., gasoline, natural gas, or other sources of fuel) and other elements (e.g., air for combustion) and measuring one or more of current engine speed (e.g., revolutions-per-minute), energy input and/or output (e.g., voltage, current, fuel consumption, and torque), and the like. Switch state control unit 168 activates or deactivates the power source (e.g., the ignition). Transmission control unit (“TCU”) 170 sets the current state the transmission (e.g., gear selection or setting) based on the state of gear controller 116. Power control unit 174 sets the throttle for power source 108 given the state of power controller 120. Brake control unit 176 operates the current state (braking or non-braking) of braking system 136 based on the state of the brake controller (which could be linked to power controller 120).

Vehicle 100 also includes other control units and sensors for safety purposes. An airbag deployment system includes an airbag deployment control unit 133 and a collision sensor 132. When a collision is detected by collision sensor 132, data is sent to airbag release control unit 133 which determines whether to deploy the airbag based on the data received (e.g., the speed of the collision and the area of impact to determine whether an airbag deployment can promote safety). Other safety components include seat belt control unit and sensors for setting the seat belt (e.g., engaging or disengaging the seat belt during hard breaking), head light control unit and sensors for headlight 128 and other lights (e.g., emergency light, brake light, parking light, fog light, interior or passenger compartment light, and/or tail light state (on or off)), door settings (locking and unlocking), window settings (opening or closing), one or cameras or other imaging sensors (which commonly convert an optical image into an electronic signal but may include other devices for detection objects such as an electromagnetic radiation emitter/receiver that emits electromagnetic radiation and receives electromagnetic waves reflected by the object) to sense objects, such as other vehicles and pedestrians and optionally determine the distance, trajectory and speed of such objects, in the vicinity or path of the vehicle, and other components and sensors as known in the art.

Vehicle 100 further includes components for the convenience and enjoyment of the occupants or operators. Seating system controller and sensor 178 sets the position and other settings of a seat and measure various attributes of an occupant of the seat (e.g., the current weight of seated occupant) in a selected seat of the seating system 148. Entertainment system 190, preferably located in the head unit of the passenger compartment, provides entertainment options such as music or video for occupants of vehicle 100.

Examples of other vehicle components include one or more cameras or other imaging sensors (which commonly convert an optical image into an electronic signal but may include other devices for detection objects such as an electromagnetic radiation emitter/receiver that emits electromagnetic radiation and receives electromagnetic waves reflected by the object) to sense objects, such as other vehicles and pedestrians and optionally determine the distance, trajectory and speed of such objects, in the vicinity or path of the vehicle, odometer reading sensor, trip mileage reading sensor, wind speed sensor, radar transmitter/receiver output, brake wear sensor, steering/torque sensor, oxygen sensor, ambient lighting sensor, vision system sensor, ranging sensor, parking sensor, heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) sensor, water sensor, air-fuel ratio meter, blind spot monitor, hall effect sensor, microphone, radio frequency (RF) sensor, infrared (IR) sensor, vehicle control system sensors, wireless network sensor (e.g., Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth sensor), cellular data sensor, and other sensors known to those of skill in the vehicle art.

Vehicle 100 includes one or more vehicle buses 180 for connecting the various components and systems of vehicle 100 as described above. In modern vehicles, subsystems such as an anti-lock braking system (ABS), which may be used by brake control unit 176 and braking system 136, engine control unit (ECU), which may be used by power source control 164, transmission control unit (TCU), which may be used by transmission control unit 170 and gear controller 116, and supplemental restraint system (SRS), such as airbag deployment control unit 133 and collision sensor 132 and seating system controller and sensor 178, are frequently interconnected using a standardized bus. Standardized buses for use in vehicles include Controller Area Network (CAN), and Local Interconnect Network (LIN) and others, as are known in the art. In particular, these components and subsystems may use the high-speed CAN bus for real-time information. Other components with lower priorities may use the low-speed CAN bus to transmit information. Vehicle bus 180 (which is optional) is illustrated as one bus in FIG. 1. However, vehicle 100 may include one or more of these standardized buses, such as a combination of the high-speed and low-speed CAN, LIN, and/or other buses. Also, vehicle bus 180 may further include and support extensions to standardized buses, such as the FlexCAN extension to the CAN bus. Further, vehicle bus 180 may include standardized communication networks that can be implemented vehicle 100. Well known networks include Ethernet, Wi-Fi, USB, I2C, RS232, RS485 and FireWire.

Vehicle 100 also includes processing module 124. Preferably, processing module 124 is placed in the trunk, hood (not shown), behind the head unit (not shown), and/or other accessible but unseen locations. Processing module 124 is coupled to vehicle bus 180 and provides processing for data related to vehicle bus 180 and other vehicle components.

Processing modules, for example, can perform, monitor, and/or control critical and non-critical tasks, functions, and operations, such as interaction with and/or monitoring and/or control of critical and non-critical on board sensors and vehicle operations (e.g., engine, transmission, throttle, brake power assist/brake lock-up, electronic suspension, fraction and stability control, parallel parking assistance, occupant protection systems, power steering assistance, self-diagnostics, event data recorders, steer-by-wire and/or brake-by-wire operations, vehicle-to-vehicle interactions, vehicle-to-infrastructure interactions, partial and/or full automation, telematics, navigation/SPS, multimedia systems, audio systems, rear seat entertainment systems, game consoles, tuners (SDR), heads-up display, night vision, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, adaptive headlights, collision warning, blind spot sensors, park/reverse assistance, tire pressure monitoring, traffic signal recognition, vehicle tracking (e.g., LoJack™), dashboard/instrument cluster, lights, seats, climate control, voice recognition, remote keyless entry, security alarm systems, and wiper/window control). Processing modules can be enclosed in an advanced EMI-shielded enclosure containing multiple expansion modules. Processing modules can have a “black box” or flight data recorder technology, containing an event (or driving history) recorder (containing operational information collected from vehicle on board sensors and provided by nearby or roadside signal transmitters), a crash survivable memory unit, an integrated controller and circuitry board, and network interfaces. Processing module 124 is further disclosed with reference to FIG. 2.

As set forth below and as shown in FIG. 3, multiple processing modules 124A-C may be located at various locations in a common vehicle. The disparate, spaced apart locations of the processing modules 124A-C provide redundancy in the event of a collision or other catastrophic event. For example, a collision with the rear of the vehicle 100 may damage the processing module 124C but not the processing modules 124A,B.

As will be appreciated, the multiple processing modules 124A-C may be configured to operate in an active/active and/or active/standby mode. These operating modes describe the manner in which first and second (redundant) devices operate under normal conditions. In active/standby implementations, only the primary device in a pair processes information and issues commands. The standby device sits idle, ready to assume the active role should the primary device fail. The standby device may receive, from the primary device, processing, command, and primary device state information to facilitate stateful failover, but it does not itself commonly perform meaningful work until the primary device fails. In active/active implementations, both devices are online and collaboratively process information and issue commands under normal conditions. When one device fails, all processing is handled by the remaining device.

A user can be an occupant of a vehicle 100 that implements the system of FIG. 1. A user can further be an assembler, technician, or mechanic working on the vehicle to configure the system of FIG. 1 for use by an end-user of the vehicle.

FIG. 2 illustrates an exemplary block diagram for a (primary and/or secondary) processing module 124A-C.

Processing module 124 may include processor 210, memory 220, storage 230, and interfaces for one or more buses 240-270. Among the interfaces 240-270 include high-speed CAN bus 240, low-speed CAN bus 250, LIN bus 260, network interface 270, and/or wireless interface 280. One skilled in the art will recognize that processing module 124 may take other configurations and with other buses as known in the art, and interfaces 240-290 may be implemented with more or fewer buses than those shown.

The operations of processing module 124 will now be described with respect to the high-speed CAN bus interface 240 and low-speed CAN bus interface 250 as an exemplary configuration in one embodiment of the invention. In one implementation, processing module 124 receives data transmitted over vehicle bus 180 through high-speed CAN bus interface 240 and/or low-speed CAN bus interface 250. Data transmitted over the high-speed CAN bus includes priority data from subsystems such as anti-lock braking system (ABS), which may be used by brake control unit 176 and braking system 136, engine control unit (ECU), which may be used by power source control 164, transmission control unit (TCU), which may be used by transmission control unit 170 and gear controller 116, and supplemental restraint system (SRS), such as airbag deployment control unit 133 and collision sensor 132 and seating system controller and sensor 178, as described above. Data transmitted over the low-speed CAN bus includes other noncritical data, such as engine temperature and oil pressure sensor readings.

Wireless interface 280, by contrast, can be a transceiver for one or more long, intermediate, or short range wireless networks, such as a radio (e.g., cellular such as CDMA, GSM, or IS-95 network), 802.X, a WiFi™ network, a Bluetooth™ network, and the like, sending and receiving a wide variety of information, including lower priority information, such as data for the convenience and enjoyment of the occupants in entertainment system 190 or seating system 148. The wireless interface 280 can access information over one or more wireless networks using an appropriate protocol, such as the Wireless Application Protocol, Wireless Internet Protocol, Wireless Session Protocol, Bluetooth Wireless Protocol, Wireless Datagram Protocol, Wireless HART Protocol, Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP), MiWi and MiWi P2P, RuBee (IEEE standard 1902.1), Wireless USB, Wireless Transport Layer Security (WTLS), and the like. In one vehicle configuration, the wireless interface 280 connects, via a short distance protocol such as Bluetooth™ or WiFi™, to an external computational device, such as a cell phone or tablet computer, for access to remote nodes over the Internet.

Local network interface 270 is a transceiver for signals exchanged with other on board components of the vehicle (including the components discussed above with respect to FIG. 1). The signals may be sent over a wired or wireless (or combination thereof) network. In one configuration, the local network interface is a wireless access point. Any suitable local area network protocol may be used, with the Ethernet protocol and the short-range protocols mentioned above being examples.

The processor 210 may comprise a general purpose programmable (micro)processor or controller for executing application programming or instructions. In accordance with at least some embodiments, the processor 210 may include multiple processor cores, and/or implement multiple virtual processors. In accordance with still other embodiments, the processor 210 may include multiple physical processors. As a particular example, the processor 304 may comprise a specially configured application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) or other integrated circuit, a digital signal processor, a controller, a hardwired electronic or logic circuit, a programmable logic device or gate array, a special purpose computer, or the like. The processor 210 generally functions to run programming code or instructions implementing various functions of the device 200.

Memory 220 for use in connection with the execution of application programming or instructions by the processor 210, and for the temporary or long term storage of program instructions and/or data. As examples, the memory 220 may comprise RAM, DRAM, SDRAM, or other solid state memory. Alternatively or in addition, data storage 230 may be provided. Like the memory 220, the data storage 230 may comprise a solid state memory device or devices. Alternatively or in addition, the data storage 230 may comprise a hard disk drive or other random access memory.

FIG. 3 depicts a vehicle 300 with multiple processing modules according to an embodiment. Vehicle 300 includes bus 180, vehicle component 310, and processing modules 124A-C.

Vehicle component 310 is an exemplary vehicle component for illustration purposes that is connected to bus 380. Vehicle component 310 may represent any of the vehicle components discussed in connection with vehicle 100 (FIG. 1).

Each of the processing modules 124A-C is each coupled to bus 180. Processing module 124A is located in the engine compartment of vehicle 300; processing module 124B is located in the passenger compartment of vehicle 300; and processing module 124C is located in the truck of vehicle 300.

In one configuration, some of the processing modules 124A-C may have limited processing functions as compared to the others. For example, processing module 124A may act as the default processing module for vehicle 300 normally because of its location being close to most critical vehicle components in the engine compartment (e.g., ECU, TCU). If the other processing modules 124B-C are only needed for redundancy, they may be implemented to only have limited capabilities (e.g., these processing modules would not be require to have processing all critical and non-critical functions). This implementation has the advantage of reduced costs and/or space as compared to fitting processing module will full capabilities. The processing modules 124A-C may also have cascading levels of capabilities. For example, processing module 124B is fitted in the passenger compartment and is deemed to most likely survive a collision; it may be required to have capabilities critical to vehicle operation but no other capabilities to save space in the passenger compartment. Processing module 124C may have additional capabilities such as a cellular module so that emergency calls may be automatically placed if the default processing module 124A fails.

In another configuration, each of the processing modules 124A-C may have different capabilities. For example, processing module 124A may have capabilities only for critical vehicle functions; processing module 124C may have capabilities only for non-critical vehicle functions; and processing module 124B may be reserved for back-up processing of both critical and non-critical vehicle functions. In one implementation, processing may be off-loaded to another processing module if one module becomes overloaded. This configuration has the advantage further reduction in costs and space because processing power is not wasted due to redundancy. In the case where one processing module malfunctions, the other processing modules may pick up processing duties via a processor off-load procedure. If there is not enough processing power all wanted functionalities, the processing modules may work together to prioritize critical vehicle functions ahead of non-critical functions.

FIG. 5 depicts computational modules and data structures in memory 220 according to an embodiment of the present disclosure.

Critical system controller(s) 512 control, monitor, and/or operate critical systems. Critical systems can include one or more of (depending on the particular vehicle) monitoring, controlling, and/or operating the ECU, TCU, door settings, window settings, and/or blind spot monitor, monitoring, controlling, and/or operating the safety equipment (e.g., airbag deployment control unit 133, collision sensor 132, nearby object sensing system, seat belt control unit, sensors for setting the seat belt, etc.), monitoring and/or controlling certain critical sensors such as the power source controller and energy output sensor 164, engine temperature, oil pressure sensing, hydraulic pressure sensors, sensors for headlight 128 and other lights (e.g., emergency light, brake light, parking light, fog light, interior or passenger compartment light, and/or tail light state (on or off)), vehicle control system sensors, wireless network sensor (e.g., Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth sensor), cellular data sensor, and/or steering/torque sensor, controlling the operation of the engine (e.g., ignition), head light control unit, power steering, display panel, switch state control unit 168, power control unit 174, and/or brake control unit 176, and/or issuing alerts to a user and/or remote monitoring entity of potential problems with a vehicle operation.

Non-critical system controller(s) 516 control, monitor, and/or operate non-critical systems. Non-critical systems can include one or more of (depending on the particular vehicle) monitoring, controlling, and/or operating a non-critical system. emissions control, seating system controller and sensor 178, entertainment system 190, monitoring certain non-critical sensors such as ambient (outdoor) weather readings (e.g., temperature, precipitation, wind speed, and the like), odometer reading sensor, trip mileage reading sensor, road condition sensors (e.g., wet, icy, etc.), radar transmitter/receiver output, brake wear sensor, oxygen sensor, ambient lighting sensor, vision system sensor, ranging sensor, parking sensor, heating, venting, and air conditioning (HVAC) system and sensor, water sensor, air-fuel ratio meter, hall effect sensor, microphone, radio frequency (RF) sensor, and/or infrared (IR) sensor.

On board sensor monitor(s) 520 include interfaces to receive signals from and transmit signals to a corresponding on-board sensor, including the on-board sensors discussed above, and the logic to monitor sensor operation and readings.

The diagnostics module 528 may be configured to handle warning/error signals in a predetermined manner. For instance, the signals can be presented to a third party and/or occupant and/or cause the performance of on-board diagnostics.

The network selector 536 selects a network for signal transmission based on network/node status, signal/noise ratio, type of signal, available and/or unavailable bandwidth, network performance parameter(s) (e.g., availability, packet drop or loss, jitter, latency, buffer capacity, throughput, and the like) quality of service, and/or other parameters and configures the signal for transmission over the selected network.

The remote control module 540 receives a request from a remote source or third party to command a vehicle function (which function may be identified by a suitable function-specific code), authenticates the requestor, and if successfully authenticated and if privileged to request the performance of the vehicle function, executes the request notwithstanding a contrary command from the vehicle operator. The requestor can, for example, be a vehicle owner, a law enforcement authority, a vehicle manufacturer, and the like.

In one application, processing module 124 is configured to process information sent over the CAN buses. As priority data is received by processing module 124 from high-speed CAN bus interface 240 and/or low-speed CAN bus 250, processing module 124 may determine the nature of the received data and independently do further processing on the received data. In a preferred embodiment, processor 210 executes instructions stored in memory 220 to perform these functions. Further, memory 220 serves as stores and retrieves for data by processor 210.

In one configuration, processing module 124 only receives data over high-speed CAN bus 240 and may send the data back over low-speed CAN bus 250. As the CAN bus provides arbitration-free transmission, processing module 124 may passively listen to information traffic, which includes priority data from the various components as discussed, sent over high-speed CAN bus 240. Processing module 124 then determines if a piece of received information may need further processing and should be sent to devices via low-speed CAN bus 250.

For example, collision sensor 132 may have detected a frontal collision. In one data path, collision sensor 132 may send a signal with details to the collision (e.g., areas of impact and/or force and/or velocity of impact) over high-speed CAN bus 240 with specific target to airbag release control unit 133 to potentially deploy the airbags once airbag release control unit 133 determines that it is suitable to do so upon the receipt of the sent data. Since the CAN bus is arbitration-free, processing module 124 also receives the collision information from collision sensor 132. Processing module 124 then processes the information received to determine to relay the information to an information display (e.g., display console of entertainment system 190) via the low speed CAN bus 250.

It is noted that the data rate is limited in the current implementations of the CAN bus. However, future implementations may allow for higher speeds such that the CAN bus may support data rate suitable for multimedia application. In these implementations, processing module 200 may be configured to leverage the CAN bus for multimedia use. For example, real-time multimedia information (e.g., analog/digital radio or television signal) may be received by an antenna and transmitted through a CAN bus via processing unit 200 to entertainment system 190. At some point in time, one component of vehicle 100 may have suffered a malfunction that requires information the driver. In the default implementation of the CAN bus, the higher priority signal from the malfunctioning component will have priority over the multimedia information. With the leveraged CAN bus by processing module 200, the high priority signal from the malfunctioning component can be further processed by processor 210. If processor 210 determines that the malfunction is minor, processor 210 may relay the malfunction information to the low speed CAN bus 250 but being mixed in with the multimedia information such that there is little disruption to playing backing the multimedia information. Further, processor 210 may also consider if the malfunction requires further processing such as notification to a repair facility or emergency services.

In another configuration, processing module 200 may leverage other buses such as the network interface 270 and/or wireless interface 280 that have more bandwidth for the data. For example, while the present implementation of the CAN bus would not support multimedia information with any substantial bit rate, the network interface 270 may be leveraged such that while CAN bus information is received via the high speed CAN bus 240, multimedia information is relayed separately via the network interface 270. This enables the processing module 200 to implement the previous example discussed involving relaying information regarding malfunctioning component without waiting for a future implementation of the CAN bus.

In another application, a processing module 124 may add further expansion modules 290A-N for further capabilities. For example, expansion modules 290A-N may contain a cellular telephony module. The cellular telephony module can comprise a GSM, CDMA, FDMA, or other digital cellular telephony transceiver and/or analog cellular telephony transceiver capable of supporting voice, multimedia and/or data transfers over a cellular network. Additionally, expansion modules 290A-N can include other cellular telephony modules from different providers or modes for other wireless communications protocols. As examples, the modules for other wireless communications protocols can include a Wi-Fi, BLUETOOTH™, WiMax, infrared, or other wireless communications link. The cellular telephony module and the other wireless communications module can each be associated with a shared or a dedicated antenna. Further, expansion modules 290A-N may also include other wired bus modules that may connect to additional essential and nonessential vehicle components that may be installed or upgraded in the future. Processing modules 290A-N may contain functions critical to the operation of the vehicle such as engine control (ECU), transmission control (TCU), airbag control, various sensors, or other operational or safety related components. Further, processing modules 290 may take on more processing duties from a vehicle component 310 connected to bus 380. Thus, processing modules 124A-C benefits from redundancy in the case that one of modules malfunctions. Further, in a vehicle collision, it is expected that at least some of the processing modules may totally malfunction. In these cases, the remaining processing modules may take over limited or full processing duties of the malfunctioning vehicle components 310 or processing modules 390A-C.

In one configuration, processor 210, memory 220, storage 230, and the bus interfaces 240-280 may also be expansion modules similar to 290A-N. For example, processor 210 may be initially implemented as an OMAP 4 processor. In the future, OMAP 5 processors may be developed and processor 210 may be upgraded as a modular component.

In another application, processing module 124 is able to support additional vehicle hardware and/or software components that are added to the vehicle and is connected to processing module 124 via a bus. For example, vehicle 100 may have installed an additional entertainment system. In one configuration, processing module 124 can treat the additional component that is connected to processing module 200 via a bus as an expansion module 290A-N.

In another configuration, the additional hardware and/or software component may require further processing for it to work with processing module 124. For example, the bus protocol may need to be modified to support communicating with the additional component because the additional component has capabilities beyond the existing protocol (e.g., an extension to an existing bus architecture). In one implementation, processing module 124 must first check to ensure that the additional component complies with OEM defined standards such that rogue components not recognized for a particular vehicle would not be supported.

FIG. 4 depicts the vehicle 100 in communication, via first, second, . . . networks 404 A, B, . . . , with a remote node 400, such as a computational device, e.g., a server, mobile phone, tablet computer, laptop computer, personal computer, and the like, of the vehicle owner, law enforcement authority, insurance company, vehicle or parts manufacturer/vendor, government entity, dealer, repair facility (e.g., to provide vehicle diagnostics, maintenance alerts, vehicle or part recall notifications, and/or predictive analytics), a service provider (e.g., a convenience service provider such as a service to connect the vehicle operator with a dealer, a service to locate the vehicle, a service to provide vehicle information and/or feature assistance, an automotive navigation system service and a service to start a vehicle (OnStar™ being an example), a location-based service provider (e.g., traffic and/or weather reporting and/or adviser on gas, accommodations, navigation, parking assistance, and/or food), Internet content provider, software vendor, concierge service provider, a processing module of another vehicle, a roadside monitor, sign, beacon, and the like, to name a few.

The first, second, . . . networks 404A,B, . . . can be any wireless network, such as a radio or cellular network (e.g., CDMA, CDMA2000, AMPS, D-AMPS, TACS, ETACS, CSK, CDMAOne, GSM, EDGE, GPRS, HSCSD, UMTS, WCDMA, HSPA, WIMAX, WIMAX ADVANCED, LTE ADVANCED, or FDMA in accordance with the 1G, 2G, 2G transitional, 3G, 3G transitional, 4G or 5G cellular network standards), a Wi Fi network, a Bluetooth network, and the like.

The vehicle 100 includes a transceiver 408 to send and receive signals over a selected one of the first, second, . . . networks 404A, B, . . . , a gateway/firewall 412 to provide secure connectivity between the various components of the vehicle 100 and the first, second, . . . networks 404A, B, . . . , primary and secondary processing modules 124A and B, memory/storage 220 or 230, on board sensors 416 (discussed above with reference to FIG. 1), input/output system(s) 420 and associated media controller (discussed below) to manage and control the output presented by the input/output system(s) to the user, network controller 428 to supervise local networks and nodes thereof and identify and, if possible, isolate malfunctioning networks and/or nodes to avoid detrimental impact on other networks and/or nodes of the vehicle 100, and external computational device(s) 432 of occupants, such as wireless capable mobile phones, tablet computers, laptop computers, and the like. As will be appreciated, the logic for the gateway/firewall 412, media controller 424 and network controller 428 can be contained within memory/storage 220, 330. The various components are connected by a bus, wireless network, or combination thereof (denoted by reference 436).

The gateway/firewall 412 can be any suitable module that can maintain secure connectivity. The need for the gateway/firewall 412 is necessitated by the assignment of a wireless data network address, such as defined by IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6), with the corresponding processing module 124. As will be appreciated, IPv6 addresses, as commonly displayed to users, consist of eight groups of four hexadecimal digits separated by colons, for example 2001:0 db8:85a3:0042:0000:8a2e:0370:7334. Each processing module 124 can have an independent network address or use a common network address. The gateway can be any module equipped for interfacing with another network that uses one or more different communication protocols. The firewall can use any technique to maintain security, including network address translation, network layer or packet filtration, application-layer firewall, and the like.

For an additional external computational device 432 that connects to processing module 124 via wireless interface 280, a secured connection protocol is needed. Unlike a wired bus connection, which is generally electronically confined to vehicle 100, a wireless connection via wireless interface 280 may be broadcast to other communication systems within the vicinity of vehicle 100. Thus, other wireless communication hardware, systems, and networks might be able to communicate with the communication system of the vehicle 100. This ability is potentially a security hazard.

To resolve this issue, wireless security rules should be used to ensure that only trusted devices, such as the external computational device 432, communicate wirelessly, via the wireless interface 280, with the on board vehicle components through the wireless interface 280. Such security is provided by the gateway/firewall 412 applying known security algorithms. In one implementation, wireless security may be implemented by the gateway/firewall 412 using the current security setup in the 802.11 standard such as Wired Equivalent Privacy (WEP) or Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) or other security systems as known in the art. OEMs may also choose to implement security by using a propriety security system and/or wireless protocol to work with the in-vehicle wireless communication network.

Upgrading the vehicle 100 using different processing modules and/or other on board components, such as on board sensors 416, can be done securely and seamlessly. A limit may be imposed on the place and manner in which an additional component communicating via the in-vehicle wireless network may be added to the vehicle 100. For example, installation of the additional component may only be available at an automobile shop or may even more limited to only in OEM approved shops or dealership to ensure that the newly installed component is fully tested to communicate only with vehicle 100 and not with other adjacent vehicles.

To facilitate this process, a handshake procedure may be used during the initial installation of the component. In one implementation, an OEM approved shop may have codes that will allow the new component to accept a link with vehicle 100. During this handshake procedure, vehicle 100 and its relevant components, such as processing module 200, may negotiate a protocol and/or security settings to communicate with the new component. For example, a symmetric or asymmetric code or key pair may be developed for encrypting communications. Alternatively, codes for WEP, WPA, or other security systems as known in the art may be developed for secured communication. After this initial handshake procedure, the new component and vehicle 100 will not have to do any further security setup in the future to prevent leaking the secured codes. In a further implementation, the new component is considered married or bound to vehicle 100 and may not communicate with any other vehicles unless unmarried or unbound when the component is removed at an approved shop. The dedication of the component to the vehicle may be done by using a unique code, such as a serial number of the component or vehicle, to enable a type of routine licensing compliance check when the car is activated. This can be done, for example, by comparing a unique code received by the installed component from another vehicle component or by the other vehicle component from the installed component. The licensing check is successful when the received code matches a code stored in memory of the receiving device.

In another configuration, the additional, or installed, component may also communicate wirelessly with other vehicle components of vehicle 100 without needed processing module 200 to relay any communication. This may be done by sharing a vehicle encryption scheme and code for the wireless use. This may be useful for emergency purposes (e.g., the police may have a need to control certain components in a vehicle).

Referring to FIG. 5, the diagnostic module 528 queries on board sensors 416 and/or on board sensor monitor(s) 520, and/or critical and/or non-critical system controller(s) 512 and 516 to determine states of various parts, components, subsystems, tasks, functions, and/or operations of the vehicle. The diagnostic module 528 can then perform diagnostics using locally stored or remotely stored (at remote node 400) pre-determined logic to identify faults, malfunctions, or other problems and, optionally, generate repair advice and/or warnings and/or instructions and/or recommendations to the vehicle operator. This diagnosis can also locate and/or determine and/or identify any parts or components required to repair the vehicle, the source and/or source(s) for replacement parts and/or components, identify a nearest and/or preferred service or repair facility or service, and/or obtain any manufacturer's and/or vendor's update information required to repair or resolve the identified fault, malfunction, or other problem. The diagnostic module 528 can provide any repair instructions and/or recommendations to the operator, pre-order the replacement parts and/or components, contact the nearest and/or preferred service facility for a repair estimate, contact the nearest and/or preferred service facility to schedule an appointment for the repair or service, and/or forward, optionally at the owner's and/or operator's instructions, the collected information regarding the fault, malfunction, or other problem to a remote node 400 (specified by the operator and/or owner) for monitoring and/or evaluation. The owner and/or operator can have a default location or select a location for fault, malfunction, or other problem analysis assistance.

FIG. 6 depicts an operation of the diagnostic module 528 in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure. In step 600, the diagnostic module 528 receives, from a local or remote source (such as the remote node 400), a signal warning of an actual or potential malfunction of an on-board component, including any of the components discussed above.

In step 604, the diagnostic module 528 determines user and/or default preferences regarding treatment of the signal. Preferences may be stored in local and/or remote memory. In some embodiments, preferences may be associated with user settings and may be created and/or modified. In some cases, preferences may be associated with a vehicle (e.g., make, model, type, serial number, etc.), occupant, operator, or other party. The various options include one or more of present the signal to a third party such as a manufacturer or servicing entity (option 608), presenting the signal to an occupant of the vehicle (option 612), contacting an emergency service provider or first responder (e.g., request tow truck or roadside service provider, contact police, and/or request dispatch of an ambulance), and performing on board diagnostics (option 616) to obtain more diagnostic information regarding the actual or potential malfunction followed by option 608 or 612. In one application, the signal is forwarded to a manufacturer or repair service vendor that compares the reported fault and vehicle-specific parameters (e.g., mileage, date of last service, and/or environmental conditions) to the maintenance and/or fault history for the vehicle model and provides, to the vehicle operator, the result of the comparison along with a probability of the diagnosis being correct. The manufacturer or service vendor also updates its database for the particular model of the vehicle to reflect the reported fault. The manufacturer or service vendor can dispatch an emergency service provider or first responder to the location reported by the vehicle SPS, and/or schedules the workload for the repair shop and pre-orders the required part(s) for the repair shop.

In step 620, the diagnostic module 528 determines a further treatment of the warning or error signal. The determination may be based, for instance, on a command or request received from the third party or occupant or an applicable set of rules and/or policies.

FIG. 7 depicts another operation of the diagnostic module 528. In general, FIG. 7 depicts a vehicle ecosystem capable of providing accurate indications for purposes of service and maintenance in accordance with embodiments of the present disclosure. Currently, vehicles may offer a warning light and/or series of lights to provide information to a user regarding vehicle condition. These lights may have a multitude of meanings that may require further inspection by a mechanic or other qualified individual. In order to interpret and decode the meanings behind a light combination, the user is routinely required to consult the owner's manual, the Internet, or to contact the dealer. In some cases, these lights are only maintenance reminders and need not be immediately addressed. However, in other cases, the lights are urgent and require immediate attention.

The present disclosure can provide an Internet enabled vehicle that is capable of transmitting vehicle codes, error code readings, and to remotely diagnose and display these codes to a user and/or a mechanic. This diagnostic information may be performed on-board or remotely. It is anticipated that the information may be accessed according to chosen preferences. Additionally, it is anticipated that based on the type of warning/error code, the system may suggest a recommended course of action. For example, if the error code indicates a severe or catastrophic failure the system may suggest to pull-over, stop the car, and/or proceed to a safe area away from the automobile.

In some embodiments, the system may provide “conversational” warnings to a user. These warnings and associated codes may also be simultaneously transmitted to a selected garage (e.g., repair vendor, mechanic, etc.) and/or postponed for approval to transmit to the nearest garage (either wired or wirelessly). In addition, the system may estimate an approximate time to fix (based on past garage fix times, garage inventory, severity of problem, combinations, etc.) and make appropriate suggestions. For example, the system may provide the conversational warning “Please do not be alarmed, your engine is running slightly low on oil; there are four garages in the general area. You have time to get a cup of coffee while you wait; there are three coffee shops in the immediate location” and/or “It appears that the rear left suspension is malfunctioning and the upper strut will need to be replaced. It is noticed that you are greater than 80 miles from home, would you like to book a reservation at a local hotel? There are five hotels in the area rated three stars or above.”

Referring to FIG. 7, the diagnostic module 528, in step 700, receives and interprets a maintenance and/or system error and/or warning or other code. Such codes are known in the art of automotive design and generally depend on the automotive and/or component manufacturer. Accordingly, the diagnostic module 528 will, generally, have a lookup table or other set of data structures to map the signal/code not only to a corresponding condition and/or conversation meaning but also behavioral rule in a rule set. The data set may be stored in local and/or remote memory accessible via the diagnostic module 528. In appropriate applications, the conversational meaning can be further determined based on the condition. Additionally or alternatively, at least one appropriate conversational meaning (e.g., a conversational meaning that applies to one or more signals) may be selected from the group of conversational meanings included in the set of data. This conversational meaning may be provided to an occupant of the vehicle.

The diagnostic module 528, in step 708, provides the conversational meaning, such as audibly and/or visually, to the vehicle operator.

The diagnostic module 528, in step 712, determines other factors related to the received code(s). The pertinent rule in the rule set, for example, can cause the diagnostic to query other components potentially impacted by the condition and/or having other data points relevant to the condition. The diagnostic module 528, in accordance with the pertinent rule, may contact a remote node 400 for additional information relevant to the code, including the conversational advice to be provided to the vehicle operator.

In step 716, the diagnostic module 528 provides the conversational advice to the operator. Advice may be provided based on the type of code, number of codes, and/or rated level of the code received. The advice may be interactive, in which event the operator would query the diagnostic module 528 for information not clear from the initially provided conversation meaning and/or advice. A menu-type structure can be used by the diagnostic module to respond to the operator request for further information. Such further information may require the diagnostic module to initiate a contact, on behalf of the operator, with a remote node 400.

In step 720, the diagnostic module 528 logs codes, internally and/or provides the codes to a remote node 400 for logging, and provides for transfer of the operator to a selected entity or entities, such as one or more remote nodes 400.

In step 724, the diagnostic module 528 optionally transfers the codes, on a predetermined stimulus, to a remote node 400.

The exemplary systems and methods of this disclosure have been described in relation to a diagnostics module 528 and associated devices. As suggested by this disclosure, features may be shared between a diagnostics module 528 and a device. However, to avoid unnecessarily obscuring the present disclosure, the preceding description omits a number of known structures and devices. This omission is not to be construed as a limitation of the scopes of the claims. Specific details are set forth to provide an understanding of the present disclosure. It should however be appreciated that the present disclosure may be practiced in a variety of ways beyond the specific detail set forth herein.

Furthermore, while the exemplary aspects, embodiments, and/or configurations illustrated herein show the various components of the system collocated, certain components of the system can be located remotely, at distant portions of a distributed network, such as a LAN and/or the Internet, or within a dedicated system. Thus, it should be appreciated, that the components of the system can be combined in to one or more devices, such as a Personal Computer (PC), laptop, netbook, smart phone, Personal Digital Assistant (PDA), tablet, etc., or collocated on a particular node of a distributed network, such as an analog and/or digital telecommunications network, a packet-switch network, or a circuit-switched network. It will be appreciated from the preceding description, and for reasons of computational efficiency, that the components of the system can be arranged at any location within a distributed network of components without affecting the operation of the system.

Furthermore, it should be appreciated that the various links connecting the elements can be wired or wireless links, or any combination thereof, or any other known or later developed element(s) that is capable of supplying and/or communicating data to and from the connected elements. These wired or wireless links can also be secure links and may be capable of communicating encrypted information. Transmission media used as links, for example, can be any suitable carrier for electrical signals, including coaxial cables, copper wire and fiber optics, and may take the form of acoustic or light waves, such as those generated during radio-wave and infra-red data communications.

Also, while the flowcharts have been discussed and illustrated in relation to a particular sequence of events, it should be appreciated that changes, additions, and omissions to this sequence can occur without materially affecting the operation of the disclosed embodiments, configuration, and aspects.

A number of variations and modifications of the disclosure can be used. It would be possible to provide for some features of the disclosure without providing others.

In some embodiments, the systems and methods of this disclosure can be implemented in conjunction with a special purpose computer, a programmed microprocessor or microcontroller and peripheral integrated circuit element(s), an ASIC or other integrated circuit, a digital signal processor, a hard-wired electronic or logic circuit such as discrete element circuit, a programmable logic device or gate array such as PLD, PLA, FPGA, PAL, special purpose computer, any comparable means, or the like. In general, any device(s) or means capable of implementing the methodology illustrated herein can be used to implement the various aspects of this disclosure. Exemplary hardware that can be used for the disclosed embodiments, configurations and aspects includes computers, handheld devices, telephones (e.g., cellular, Internet enabled, digital, analog, hybrids, and others), and other hardware known in the art. Some of these devices include processors (e.g., a single or multiple microprocessors), memory, nonvolatile storage, input devices, and output devices. Furthermore, alternative software implementations including, but not limited to, distributed processing or component/object distributed processing, parallel processing, or virtual machine processing can also be constructed to implement the methods described herein.

In yet another embodiment, the disclosed methods may be readily implemented in conjunction with software using object or object-oriented software development environments that provide portable source code that can be used on a variety of computer or workstation platforms. Alternatively, the disclosed system may be implemented partially or fully in hardware using standard logic circuits or VLSI design. Whether software or hardware is used to implement the systems in accordance with this disclosure is dependent on the speed and/or efficiency requirements of the system, the particular function, and the particular software or hardware systems or microprocessor or microcomputer systems being utilized.

In yet another embodiment, the disclosed methods may be partially implemented in software that can be stored on a storage medium, executed on programmed general-purpose computer with the cooperation of a controller and memory, a special purpose computer, a microprocessor, or the like. In these instances, the systems and methods of this disclosure can be implemented as program embedded on personal computer such as an applet, JAVA® or CGI script, as a resource residing on a server or computer workstation, as a routine embedded in a dedicated measurement system, system component, or the like. The system can also be implemented by physically incorporating the system and/or method into a software and/or hardware system.

Although the present disclosure describes components and functions implemented in the aspects, embodiments, and/or configurations with reference to particular standards and protocols, the aspects, embodiments, and/or configurations are not limited to such standards and protocols. Other similar standards and protocols not mentioned herein are in existence and are considered to be included in the present disclosure. Moreover, the standards and protocols mentioned herein and other similar standards and protocols not mentioned herein are periodically superseded by faster or more effective equivalents having essentially the same functions. Such replacement standards and protocols having the same functions are considered equivalents included in the present disclosure.

The present disclosure, in various aspects, embodiments, and/or configurations, includes components, methods, processes, systems and/or apparatus substantially as depicted and described herein, including various aspects, embodiments, configurations embodiments, subcombinations, and/or subsets thereof. Those of skill in the art will understand how to make and use the disclosed aspects, embodiments, and/or configurations after understanding the present disclosure. The present disclosure, in various aspects, embodiments, and/or configurations, includes providing devices and processes in the absence of items not depicted and/or described herein or in various aspects, embodiments, and/or configurations hereof, including in the absence of such items as may have been used in previous devices or processes, e.g., for improving performance, achieving ease and\or reducing cost of implementation.

The foregoing discussion has been presented for purposes of illustration and description. The foregoing is not intended to limit the disclosure to the form or forms disclosed herein. In the foregoing Detailed Description for example, various features of the disclosure are grouped together in one or more aspects, embodiments, and/or configurations for the purpose of streamlining the disclosure. The features of the aspects, embodiments, and/or configurations of the disclosure may be combined in alternate aspects, embodiments, and/or configurations other than those discussed above. This method of disclosure is not to be interpreted as reflecting an intention that the claims require more features than are expressly recited in each claim. Rather, as the following claims reflect, inventive aspects lie in less than all features of a single foregoing disclosed aspect, embodiment, and/or configuration. Thus, the following claims are hereby incorporated into this Detailed Description, with each claim standing on its own as a separate preferred embodiment of the disclosure.

Moreover, though the description has included description of one or more aspects, embodiments, and/or configurations and certain variations and modifications, other variations, combinations, and modifications are within the scope of the disclosure, e.g., as may be within the skill and knowledge of those in the art, after understanding the present disclosure. It is intended to obtain rights which include alternative aspects, embodiments, and/or configurations to the extent permitted, including alternate, interchangeable and/or equivalent structures, functions, ranges or steps to those claimed, whether or not such alternate, interchangeable and/or equivalent structures, functions, ranges or steps are disclosed herein, and without intending to publicly dedicate any patentable subject matter.