Here's a tale from Gerhard Schmidt, Ford Motor Co.'s (ford.com) vice president of research and advanced engineering:
A chemical engineer, a mechanical engineer, an electrical engineer and a software engineer were on their way to a conference when their car stalled. As you might expect, each had something to say about the situation.
"Obviously, some contaminate in the fuel has caused this failure," said the chemical engineer.
"I disagree," said the mechanical engineer. "I believe that an engine component has suffered a structural failure."
The electrical engineer said, "I believe an electrical module suffered a short circuit."
And the software engineer? He offered a solution. Call it a reboot.
"What would happen," he asked, "if we all got out of the car and then got back in again?"
The story was a way of illustrating that as vehicles become more complex as a result of increased computing power and electronics, answers are harder to find. That's why events such as this week's Convergence show in Detroit - the auto industry's biennial gathering that brings together electronics specialists, business executives and engineers - are important.
The industry faces plenty of challenges, such as integrating new technologies and dealing with issues such as driver distraction.
Schmidt is the chairman of this year's show.