This blog is part of the IEEE IoT Brain Trust series. This collection of blogs will explore IoT in the industry.
Fix your gaze on the road ahead. “Connected” cars, currently under development, are forecast to reach a highway near you – perhaps even your own driveway – by 2020, a mere four years from now.
By then, it’s likely that a new vehicle’s internal network will exchange a constant stream of data with the cloud for applications such as telematics, diagnostics, infotainment and the vehicle’s position in traffic, to name but a few applications. That network will also monitor and control the vehicle’s newly electrified (formerly mechanical and hydraulic) functions, which will aid safety, precision, trouble-shooting and a condition-based maintenance approach.
The connected car also will access the Internet of Things (IoT), which will bring an entire universe of insights, forecasts and monitoring-and-control capabilities made possible by a connected world, including location-based services and access to one’s immediate surroundings, smart homes, smart cities and beyond.
These developments may not surprise consumers in the digital and Internet age, but they may delight them and, in the process, revolutionize driving and the behavior of both drivers and vehicles. And much work remains to be done to achieve this “2020 vision” of vehicular applications.
Fortunately, one of the foundations has already been realized: the recent publication of the new IEEE 802.3bw™-2015 100BASE-T1 standard that supports 100 megabit per second (Mb/s) Ethernet operation over a single, balanced, twisted pair cable in the connected car.
Practical and conceptual impacts
On a practical level, this standard will enable vehicle manufacturers to reduce the number of wires in wiring harnesses, which in turn will reduce the cost and weight of a vehicle’s third-most expensive component.
On a more conceptual level, publication of IEEE 802.3bw-2015 will provide the automotive industry with a path to an in-vehicle, homogenous network architecture, as well as the increased data speeds needed for a collection of advanced applications. Those applications include advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), infotainment (streaming music, video, DVD and BluRay) and overall electrification of motorized vehicle functions.
And IEEE 802.3bw-2015, because it is Ethernet, will enable a future-oriented software platform to support applications and innovations for IoT-connected vehicles that we currently cannot imagine.
Readers of Electronic Component News will no doubt grasp that, for the automotive domain and, surely, other domains, these practical and conceptual advancements will drive innovation in electronic components as well.
Drivers of change
The global automotive industry’s need for cost-effective, high-bandwidth connectivity for complex, in-vehicle applications such as ADAS, infotainment and others I’ve cited – plus the perennial pressure to reduce total vehicle weight – really created a need for this new Ethernet standard.
The standard’s evolution tells us a good deal about both the history of the automotive field and the critical role of standards. There’s nothing like knowledge of where we’ve come from in order to determine where we’re going next – surely a notion of importance to electronic component designers.
The OPEN Alliance, an automotive industry association, had developed a specification for 100 Mb/s operation over a single twisted wire pair, captured by the acronym OABR (OPEN Alliance 100Mbit/s BroadR-Reach) when, in 2012, the IEEE 802.3 Ethernet Working Group started P802.3bp, 1000BASE-T1, Gigabit Ethernet over a single twisted wire pair.
The OPEN Alliance realized that an IEEE standard, compatible with OABR, would benefit the industry and find the widest acceptance and adoption. Work on P802.3bw 100BASE-T1 began in early 2014 and IEEE 802.3bw-2015 was approved in October 2015.
To understand the importance of these developments, consider the trends in automotive manufacturing.
Copper wiring has been employed in the industry for over a century. A single balanced twisted pair cable requires the least amount of wire and has the lightest possible weight. This configuration provides an intrinsic reduction of electromagnetic interference (EMI) and high immunity to external EMI. Engines and ignition systems are major sources of EMI and vehicles themselves, of course, must withstand huge temperature swings, vibration, dust, corrosive fluids and other hazards. Simplifying an automotive wiring harness reduces a vehicle’s vulnerability to these factors.
By moving to an Ethernet-based, single twisted pair, manufacturers reduce the amount of wire, its weight, cost and the labor needed to integrate that harness on the assembly line. A corresponding reduction in vehicle weight improves a vehicle’s efficiency, gas mileage and lowers emissions. These physical ramifications of IEEE 802.3bw-2015 by themselves represent significant, measurable benefits.
These benefits happen to go hand-in-hand with the standard’s support for greater data speeds and a homogenous network architecture that will provide a unified platform for innumerable applications – some of which I’ve mentioned and some that remain for future developers to imagine and create.