Today’s cars are equipped with a multitude of electronics that help manage various systems and assistance features. However, the management of these numerous computers and systems can be complex and result in bulky cable harnesses that increase the weight of the vehicle.

In response to the challenges posed by the increasing electronic components in cars, Fraunhofer researchers have embarked on a joint research project called CeCaS. The primary goal of this project is to develop a systems architecture that allows for the centralized management of all electronic components from a single computer platform. This centralized approach aims to simplify the construction of highly automated and connected vehicles.

At the core of the Fraunhofer technology developed in the CeCaS project is an extremely reliable Ethernet backbone that operates in real-time. This innovative approach envisions a car where components are controlled from a central supercomputing platform, rather than relying on a multitude of interconnected computer systems. This centralized management system would enable users to install updates via Wi-Fi and integrate new functions as needed, without the need for a mechanic.

The CeCaS project has received support from the German federal government as part of its initiative to fund research on electronics and software development methods for the digitalization of automobility. The push for new computer architectures in cars is driven by the increasing trends of automation and connectedness, which are generating vast amounts of data. Vehicle manufacturers are seeking ways to standardize technologies, centralize component management, optimize communication, and provide real-time computing power.

To meet the demands of the CeCaS project, Fraunhofer researchers are focusing on Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) and further developing their semiconductor functional blocks called IP cores. The goal is to enhance Ethernet-based network technology with real-time capabilities, ensuring robustness and reliability in all situations. TSN achieves real-time capability and reliability through consistent system time management, smart process queue control, and task prioritization.

Ethernet technology offers flexibility and scalability, making it a suitable choice for vehicle applications of various sizes, performance levels, and functions. Combined with Fraunhofer’s IP cores, Ethernet technology can be tailored to meet the specific requirements of different vehicles. The centralized control system enabled by Ethernet technology will lead to a reduced cable harness, lowering manufacturing costs and overall vehicle weight.

The CeCaS project aims to revolutionize the way cars are constructed, moving from domain-based component control to zone-based management. By utilizing a few high-performance computing platforms to control multiple modules simultaneously, including safety-critical systems and various sensors and entertainment features, cars of the future will become supercomputers on wheels.

The innovative systems architecture being developed in the CeCaS project represents a significant shift in the automotive industry. The centralized management of electronic components through real-time Ethernet backbone technology is set to transform the way vehicles are designed, built, and operated. As automation and connectivity continue to drive the evolution of cars, Fraunhofer researchers are at the forefront of developing cutting-edge solutions that will shape the future of automotive technology.

Technology

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