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Cambridge PROMISES to speed up car servicing

Researchers at Cambridge University are developing self-diagnosis systems which could speed up and simplify servicing.

Fiat is the sole automotive group taking part in the University of Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing project designed to develop self-diagnosis systems for production cars by 2010/12.

Manufacturers of heavy equipment and trains are among 22 companies involved in the EU-funded project called ‘Product Lifecycle Management and Information Tracking Using Smart Embedded Systems’, or PROMISE.

Fiat has contributed a Grande Punto to assist the team in its work with radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags. The technology is a development of the system that alerts drivers of BMWs, and other cars, to the need for servicing.

Ajith Parlikad, who heads PROMISE, says: “We are confident of getting this ready for production cars within three to five years.

“It will make servicing quicker and more efficient, by identifying the age and condition of individual components. That will help to save money.

“The other benefit is with end-of-vehicle life (ELV) by making it easier to identify components that can be recycled or used again.”

PROMISE was started in January 2005 and is due to be completed next June.

PROMISE has been demonstrated at Fiat’s research centre in Turin and its public debut was at this month’s EU-organised Scientific Technology Options Assessment Experience at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Professor Duncan McFarlane, who heads the Cambridge Institute of manufacturing, says: “The Promise system has great potential. In time it could be possible to tag all sorts of products and components including airport baggage and boarding passes.”

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