JavaSoft: The Network is the Car

“No More Highway Nightmares”

“From the moment the SunTM concept car booth opened at the 1999
JavaOneSM developer conference, to the time it closed, there were
lines of people, often five to six deep, on each side of the car,
eager to sit in the passenger seat while a member of the demo staff
from Sun Microsystems Laboratory (‘SunLabs’) put the car’s hardware
and software through its paces. Overall, the reaction was extremely
positive. ‘Typically,’ says Guy Martin, staff engineer with
SunLabs, ‘people said, ‘Wow, I didn’t think you could do all that
with JavaTM technology!'”

“The Sun concept car, a technically souped-up version of GM’s
electric car, EV1, has the potential to turn nightmares into
pleasant realities. For instance, imagine you are stuck on the
highway with your car broken down. Upset? Not at all. You simply
call AAA and ask, ‘What’s wrong with my car?’ After checking your
car’s Web page, the person on the other end of the line informs you
that there is something wrong with your power management system and
sends someone to fix it.”

“The car’s server is a SPARCTM microprocessor-based system that
sits in what looks like a shoebox. ‘We chose it because Sun had 100
of them as research prototypes,’ comments Martin. ‘We were able to
put the latest versions of Java technology on it. We run Java
Embedded ServerTM and PersonalJava technologies on top of that. The
SPARC processor-based system operates the display in front of the
driver and is the primary server in the car.’ SunLabs is currently
in the process of migrating their server architecture to a Cell
Computing single-board computer with a Pentium processor. ‘Moving
from the SPARC processor-based system to the Linux box is
relatively straightforward because the apps are already in the Java
programming language,’ Martin explains. ‘The Cell Computing
single-board system listens to the car’s diagnostics. Putting the
network in the car is the key, because you can then deliver new
software to the car.'”