Fraunhofer researchers develop failure-tolerant data transfer for cars

September 27, 2013 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Electronic control units (ECUs) in vehicles communicate across real-time enabled data buses such as CAN or FlexRay. In this environment, protocols define exactly which ECU can transfer data at any given point in time across the bus, providing for a fixed allocation of data type and bus. This makes the system susceptible to errors and failures, a group of scientists at the Fraunhofer Institute for Experimental Software Engineering (Fraunhofer IESE) found. Now they developed a new communication scheme that helps to make in-car data exchange more reliable.

The technique enables a fast and safe alteration of the standard scheme in exceptional situations. If a data bus fails, another bus can be switched over from normal operation mode to distress mode within a defined time frame. This enables the system to maintain critical data connections in critical situations - an important safety element in particular in steer-by-wire or brake-by-wire functions where there is no mechanical or hydraulical fall-back level; a data communication failure would have potentially catastrophic consequences. With the Fraunhofer invention, system operation remains safe and reliable, the institute says.

The research has been conducted in cooperation with the Kaiserslautern Technical University. Both entities have jointly applied for a patent for the new technique.

For more information; www.iese.fraunhofer.de/en.html