Might The Sudden Acceleration Problem In Some Cars Be Due To Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC)

Submitted by Charles Frost on Wed, 03/17/2010 - 20:44.

From an interesting paper that was written in Europe...


Executive summary

This report gives the rationale for establishing support for Electromagnetic
Compatibility (EMC) research in association with industrial needs. The objective is to
attract structural support for EMC research. This can be achieved by disseminating this
report towards stakeholders within the several Directorate General with the Europan
Union in Brussels, members of parliament, and using the various networks. Examples
of these networks are Orgalime1, European automotive association, European
aerospace association, etc. etc. Another possibilities is to obtain the status of
Technology Platform. A Technology Platform defines, with other stakeholders, the key
topics of the research agenda of the European Union, with the first focus on the 7th
Although EMC is not very visible for many people, it plays a major role in our daily
lives. This report shows the impact of EMC via many examples of non-EMC. The cost
associated of EMC, and especially the costs due to interference, based on literature
research and statements from industry representatives are listed. These costs are
much higher then the costs of all research carried out at this moment, even knowing
that the economic benefit of an electromagnetic compliant society cannot be
accounted for.
EMC was and is often addressed on an adhoc basis and via a re-active approach. No
long term scientific programme in this area for pro-active research in order to speed up
the introduction of new technologies in our society exist. A long-term fundamental work
of strategic nature in EMC is required now to support emerging technologies. Based on
recognised trends, the needs as seen by industry has been used to draw a roadmap
which require a broad approach and support, and actually could merge into a
European EMC technology Platform. This platform can be used to obtain agreement
on vision and strategic mission with core-stakeholders on the major European needs,
bridging the gap between industry and knowledge centers.
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  1. Introduction
The ever-increasing proliferation of all kinds of (wired and wireless) electronic
equipment in every aspect of human life requires careful design and engineering
methodologies to assure proper functioning of products and systems in their
operational environment.
Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) of electronic systems covers this topic, and it will
present a much greater engineering challenge in the future than it does today.
Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) is one of the main factors resulting in lack of EMC.
Some examples of EMI are
• the ignition coil of a motor engine acts as a spark-gap generator, resulting in
interference on the radio, or
• the electromagnetic field produced by a mobile telephone disturbs the electronic
fuel pumps reducing the ‘costs’ of gas drastically.
EMC is often seen as just an additional aspect of design and engineering, although
interest is more or less related to the number of disasters caused by EMI. If no
problems arise then any interest in the subject will decrease, until a (new) disaster**
will appear.
EMI is known since electricity and magnetism studies begun. Benjamin Franklin
experimented with lightning, a major cause of EMI. Guglielmo Marconi proved that
transmission of electromagnetic waves over a large distance was possible using a
spark-gap generator. He was lucky that he was the only ‘man-made noise’ user of the
electromagnetic spectrum at that time and thus did not cause any interference. Already
in 1933 a meeting of the International Electrotechnical Committee (IEC) recommended
the formation of the International Special Committee of Radio Interference (CISPR) to
deal with the emerging problem of EMI. But even since Marconi’s wide-band radio the
available electromagnetic spectrum has shrunk, especially due to the exponentially
growing number of users of mobile systems in the last decade. The wireless and wired
spectrum are already and will get even more overcrowded with applications such as
Global System for Mobile communication (GSM), Universal Mobile Telephone System
(UMTS), BlueTooth, Wireless LAN (Local Area Network) and Asymmetric Digital
Subscriber Line (ADSL) and Power Line Communication (PLC). Broadcasting systems
used in the last few decades used simple frequency management techniques to cope
with interference. The newer applications have interference management techniques
** Disasters:
Airbags activated by mobile telephones resulted in the recall of millions of cars
Missile fired onboard the USS Forrestal due to unwanted radar transmission
Pacemakers disturbed by security port in shops
Motor management system stopped a car unintentionally due to high local field strengths
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2. The need for Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC)
Electromagnetic Interference, and lack of EMC, results in costly delays or even cancel
the introduction of new products. The delayed introduction of the Toll-Collect system in
Germany, mainly due to EMC problems, resulted in the loss of income of 7.5 Billion
euro [36]. The EMC problems were known: ‘The study notes that GPS is susceptible to
unintentional disruption from such causes as atmospheric effects, signal blockage from
buildings, and interference from communications equipment, as well as to potential
deliberate disruption’ [34]. ‘GPS provides many benefits to civilian users. It is
vulnerable, however, to interference and other disruptions that can have harmful
consequences’ [35].
The introduction of new technologies results, however, in interference problems in
every day environments, such as mobile equipment onboard planes or in hospitals,
and electro phobia problems and public resistance against (mobile) radiating systems.
The Federal Aviation Association (FAA) reported many interferences onboard planes
[25, 26], and in the New Scientist of 9 September 2000 [28] a pilot complained about
the increasing number of interferences onboard automated planes.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA)) reported 90 incidents due to EMI, with 3
people killed. One of these happened due to a malfunctioning defibrillator due to
communication antennas on top a an ambulance with a plastic roof [30].
Many interference reports have been made [10, 12, 21]. In [10] interference reports in
12 months are given: 2500 on television sets and 220 on radio sets. There is
widespread acceptance that interference is a fact of life. When the writer of [10] tried
to explain to his hairdresser what an EMC consultant did, the immediate
response was “Oh, like hair driers and TV!”. A purser in a plane noted ‘always the
discussion about electronic apparatus, like they are hand grenades’. He is not aware of
the possibility of fabricating a simple HPM jammer (high power microwave) inside an IPod [33], acting as a modern hand grenade which interferes with the electronic
systems onboard of a plane.
A pilot onboard a parked plane (F-4B) on the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal switched on
the border radar which activated unintentionally a sumi rocket. It resulted in a deadly
fire killing 134 people and a 180 M$. In the 80’s of the last century five Black Hawk
helicopters (type UH-60) crashed due to interference in the stabilisation system,
caused by the high field strength of high power broadcast transmitters. The accidents
killed 22 soldiers, and the material costs were 22 M$ [22]. The marine version, the Sea
Hawk (type SB-60), was not susceptible because the more hostile naval environment,
with high power radar and communication systems, was taken into account in the
design phase.
During the first Gulf war many systems appeared to be interfered with by other
systems. For example, the SPN-43 was interfered by communication transmitters and
a surface to air missile (SAM) was controlled erroneously by a radar from another ship.
In the second gulf war a Patriot-rocket destroyed a friendly plane due to interference
with another [23]. The avionic system onboard a Fokker F28 plane failed after a
lightning strike due to a faulty connector [27]. Intentional EMI is becoming increasingly
common. In St. Petersburg burglars managed to interfere with the electronic protection
system of a jewelry and robbed the whole store [31].
Many other examples are given in Appendix A showing the impact of electromagnetic
interference in all kind of products in our daily life.