The modern car has diagnostic systems that interface with service computers to detect potential future and existing problems. Although these are helpful in initial diagnosis, more detection work is often required and, for this, technicians must refer to service manuals, available either online or as extensive printed documents.
These manuals, created by large documentation teams, are particular to each car type and its many variants. Authoring these documents is a slow and error-prone process, sometimes resulting in unwieldy service manuals that have to be searched by the service technicians to track down possible issues. New online manuals have helped, although they are still static in nature and cannot keep up with advancing automotive technology.
A new technology, borrowed from the semiconductor electronic design automation industry, holds the promise of a better approach to traditional service manuals. The easiest way to imagine this is to consider the way we use online and mobile GPS map programs to navigate our way around.
When trying to choose a route to a specific location, we all remember using paper maps, searching through them, finding the location itself, then the ideal route to get there. The modern “Google Maps” approach, where start and final locations are entered and a map is created that focuses on the area of interest, providing data on the locations as well as road changes, together with ideal routes to get there quickly, accounting for traffic conditions, is both faster and more accurate. The map database can be updated to take changes to the roads into account, and the display is easy to understand and use.