CNET GLOSSARY: Terms for the techie
If aircraft can fly-by-wire, why not apply the same technology to cars? The industry has begun to adopt actuators for throttle inputs, eliminating cables and providing better feedback to engine and transmission control units. Brake-by-wire has met with mixed success, based mainly on the complexity of braking systems and the need for redundancy in case those pesky wires get crossed.
Although steering by wire is possible, no one has had the courage to try that scheme in production. But shift-by-wire is showing up in vehicles from BMW's big 7-series to the Toyota Prius. Automotive historians may remember similar systems in Chryslers from the 1950s and '60s, as well as in the Edsel.
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