• Dec 1, 2007
There's a variety of flavors of in-car networking standards that corral the large number of embedded computers and nodes present in the modern automobile. BMW Research and Technology, an R&D division of BMW, has found Internet Protocol up to the tasks that the other standards currently perform. BMW engineers used a standard PC and connected it up to the expected gear -- ECUs, engine and chassis control systems, even a multimedia server for the entertainment system. The reasoning behind using IP versus the more specialized protocols is to anticipate future needs and requirements, as well as reducing costs. Costs drop because fewer specialized components are needed, and the new version of IPv6 is even better than the more than fine performance from IPv4. It's a little spooky to think that your fly-by-wire throttle could be trying to chat with the engine using the same technology that we use to send instant messages, but IP proved itself capable enough even for critical safety functions. The research is ongoing, but BMW's work bodes well for adding functionality and decreasing costs. Adding aftermarket goodies should be fairly painless and service shops will also have an easier time of it by going with a more universal language. Imagine surfing the web with iDrive, though. Blech.

[Source: Automotive Design Line, Photo: Zercustoms]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 28 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      It is pointless to run IP in a car unless it is entertainment system.

      IP is hardware independent and have standardized software support, so it is cheap to develop for large compatibility. However, it is not a physical or even media access layer protocol so you still need something underneath to work. It adds overhead that cost money, well, may not be much for a $40k car, but still, there are more things that can go wrong but nothing in terms of benefit for real time system. It is simply overkill for low bandwidth, low latency, real time system that has single connection or low/no routing.

      You still need to run it over a CAN bus, which is fault tolerant and collision prove. Unless they want to route entertainment between the front and back, or to provide in car wifi, there is no point.

      It would not be safe to use it to connect ECU and other controllers, CAN is still needed.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Amusing to think that some of our grandparents experienced the advent of "Self-Starting! Safe, low voltage DC under-the-hood!" with the same attitude.
      • 7 Years Ago
      CAN was invented by BOSCH and anyone who uses it has to pay a license fee to BOSCH. I suspect one reason BMW is trying this is to switch to an open source non licensed protocol and hardware standard that does not have any licensing fees.

      On of the issues with CAN is if the transmission line is damaged or fails network communication fails (a lot like a break in an old token ring Ethernet network would isolate notes on either side of the break).

      IP could connect the send/receive modules in a redundant star topology which would not disrupt traffic like what would occur with CAN. I'm betting that is a large part of the increase in reliability them mention.
      • 7 Years Ago
      IP is simply a way of packaging data, and not specifically to do with the Internet.
      • 7 Years Ago
      i hax0red your b33mer... i haz ur cookie k thx bye

      Imagine starting your car and seeing that message on your dash.

      Rest of post at http://blogs.globalcrossing.com/node/383
      • 7 Years Ago
      I just hope the airbag deployment signal isn't sent over udp...
        • 7 Years Ago
        HAHAHAHA!!! You're killing me man, no pun intended (hopefully)... Non-deterministic critical messaging, gotta love it.
          • 7 Years Ago
          I was wondering if someone would get that one...
      • 7 Years Ago
      So when you crash, does the Blue Screen of Death pop up? Hyuck!
      • 7 Years Ago
      The point of TCP/IP is load balancing, so there are multiple possible paths between two destinations. So you split your data into packets, send them out into the world, and eventually they get to the same place...maybe not in the correct order, but the senders/receivers can figure that out.

      Now tell me, why is this necessary in car?
        • 7 Years Ago
        The point of TCP/IP is not load balancing, it is redundancy and recoverability. If a node fails, the network learns the next best path to get the data there (this really falls under dynamic routing protocols, but whatever). it was designed to standardize inter-system communications across numerous manufacturers. It accomplishes this through encapsulation and a layered model. TCP/IP is a 4 layer model consisting of (from the bottom up) Network Access, Internet, Transport, and Application. The point is that each layer could care less what the layer above or below it is doing with the data, as long as it gets it in a format it can handle, and can pass it along up/down the chain.

        And how is IPv6 so much better than IPv4 for this application? The big thing with IPv6 is that we are running out of public IP addresses, so with IPv6 the address space has been expanded from ~4.3x10^9 to 3.4x10^38. Sure there are other advantages but none of these will be of benefit here. Even the addressing is bunk in this case unless all the components of your car-net are connecting to the public Internet.

      • 7 Years Ago
      I don't have much confidence in BMW ever since they invented iDrive.

      Isn't there already a simpler protocol called CAN that is already in use in many cars? Seems like CAN would already be dirt-cheap. It's fault-tolerant, can run at 1 Mbps, and supports multiple-device arbitration with >100 devices. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Controller_Area_Network
      and http://hem.bredband.net/stafni/developer/CAN.htm

        • 7 Years Ago
        BMW already uses CANbus in their cars and motorcycles.

        Using IP as the network layer protocol would be a great idea, IMHO, it would save on weight and cost as wiring could be made simpler. Additionally, it would conceivably make adding and integrating new features to cars easier.

        My question is though, would availability to stuff like the engine/trans management computers be available (as it is via OBDII/VAG-COM)?
      • 7 Years Ago
      Uh yeah. It's great until your car gets pwned.
      • 7 Years Ago
      It's all good until you get: Error 404 - File Not Found!
        • 7 Years Ago
        NERDZ!
        • 7 Years Ago
        You're thinking of HTTP (hyper-text transfer protocol); this IPv6 (Internet Protocol), one level down the network stack.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Actually, HTTP is layer 7 and IP is layer 3... but still, way off there ;)
      • 7 Years Ago
      another prime example of how TOO complicated cars have gotten.

      whatever happened to simple = better? cars from the 70s are still being driven and older cars are easy to get running again. These Ipods and intarwebs on wheels won't be around in 20 years much less have any chance of being restored (not that anyone would want to restore one).

      though I guess it proves to keep the market competitive, but I see no other need for this kind of complexity.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Everything now days is like that, pile of broken electronics after a few years or less. I have gone through 2 xbox360's that break with minimal usage. an hr or so a day and they dont even last me 6months. while my nintendo from almost 20yrs ago that was constantly played still works perfectly.
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