The next-generation BMW X5 is said to implement the first application of Flexray in the automotive world, using the relatively new networking protocol for its electronically controlled dampers. This will come approximately two years before the manufacturer rolls out its first platform that uses Flexray as the main vehicle communications backbone. The CAN-C systems currently in place are limited to 500 kbs, which many manufacturers are finding isn't fast enough. Even more problematic, CAN isn't deterministic; that is, it cannot be assured that a message will be successfully transmitted at a particular point in time. There are ways of asserting priority on the network, but this involves playing favorites - not acceptable when it comes to deciding whether the braking or steering is more important, and while those two were arguing, your electromechanical valve system just crashed. Flexray solves both problems by increasing the data rate, and implements a low-cost means of establishing a network clock so that each module is given a discrete slice of time in which it can do its thing. There's a decent introduction to it here for those looking to learn more. Expect to hear a lot more about this in the next few years. In the meantime, those of us heavily invested in CAN development tools will hopefully get our money's worth.


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