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Boost passenger safety, comfort through Ethernet

Posted: 01 Feb 2012 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Collision warning? vehicle electronics? Ethernet? onboard diagnostics?

As homes become more digitally advanced, consumers are also raising their expectations for connectivity and greater levels of safety and comfort in their vehicles. As a result, in-vehicle electronics are growing in number and complexity. Collision warning, comfort controls, infotainment, and advanced driver assistance are just some of today's sophisticated and diverse applications generating an increasing need for bandwidth and connectivity within and between in-vehicle networks. As homes become more digitally sophisticated, consumers are developing higher expectations for connectivity and greater levels of safety and comfort in their home away from hometheir vehicle. As a result, in-vehicle electronics are growing in number and complexity, keeping step with technology advancements and capitalizing on consumer expectations for a connected driving experience.

Collision warning, comfort controls, infotainment and advanced driver assistance are just some of today's sophisticated and diverse applications generating an increasing need for bandwidth and connectivity within and between in-vehicle networks. Answering these needs effectively is creating a significant competitive arena for innovation among automotive manufacturers and OEMs.

In such a market, vehicle electronics are no longer considered a series of distinct standalone components and are evolving into a more seamless in-vehicle network. By connecting through proven IP-based Ethernet technology, auto manufacturers have the means to bridge the gap between function and entertainment within a single network, while dramatically reducing connectivity cost and cabling weight.

Ethernet for automotive use
Ethernet is not unfamiliar to automotive electronics, but until recently its use was restricted to onboard diagnostics (OBD) rather than passenger-facing applications. In a service setting, with no passengers present and the engine off, a standard Ethernet connection was suitable for technicians to connect for testing and diagnostics. To make the shift from OBD applications to an in-vehicle network during engine operation, today's Ethernet solutions must address the stringent requirements of the automotive industry, including electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), temperature tolerance, and emissions immunity.

At the same time, suppliers face the challenge of meeting rigorous industry performance regulations and must ensure they provide an open architecture with system compatibility throughout the vehicle. Above all, in-vehicle systems must be a differentiator for customers, not a road block. Buyers want new technologies and features but for minimal cost. From the customer's perspective, it's all about increasing functionality, connectivity and performance while maintaining affordability.

Bandwidth onboard
Vehicle bandwidth needs are expanding well beyond infotainment and navigation. In fact, the need for higher bandwidth is redefining a broad range of vehicle motion and safety applications. An Ethernet-based 360 surround view parking system, for example, combines multiple digital sensors and cameras with low-light sensitivity and high definition image and video capturea groundbreaking step in migrating vehicle motion management from a closed application to an open, scalable driver assistance network in which several systems can access and share essential information.

By combining economical Ethernet technology with high resolution imagery gathered from affordable CMOS image sensors, automotive OEMs can dramatically extend sophisticated parking assistance systems to a broader range of vehicles, bringing valuable assistance options to luxury and non-luxury markets alike. This same standardized IP technology has the ability to drive audio and video packets for display and infotainment applications throughout the vehicle, manage body control systems, passive restraints, and more.

Today's Ethernet-based automotive connectivity solutions, developed specifically to address automotive industry requirements, combine physical layer (PHY) transceiver and switch technology to deliver 100 Mbps over unshielded single twisted pair cable. This innovation bypasses traditional Category 5 cabling for Ethernet connectivity, allowing all vehicle components to connect with wires that are much thinner, lighter and more cost effective. By eliminating the need for expensive, cumbersome shielded cabling, automotive manufacturers can significantly reduce connectivity costsby up to 80%and cabling weight by up to 30%.

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