car hacking

Yahoo! News – Hack Your Car (link is broken now)

A short overview of OBD — onboard diagnostics — the way you access the computer in your car to find out what its up to or to change its performance specs.

I’m really fascinated by the notion of computers in cars. I’ve pulled apart motorcycles and done a lot of basic maintenance on cars and to me engines are about as hardware as you can get. The notion that you can plug a laptop into an engine and muck around with some parameters — change the software of an engine — and thus completely change how it behaves — seems somehow magical to me. Of course it makes total sense technologically, a car is just another system, but still. Its a very long way from pistons and crankshafts to malloc and free, and I’m still picking grease out from under my fingernails.

I haven’t had the time to buy one of these car hacking systems and actually try them out on my own car — although my car is kind of big and slow and I don’t think I’d get much benefit out of changing the timing or whatnot. But still, it’d be interesting to know what’s going on in there. I’d hate to find out that my car thinks my driving sucks.