11th international CAN Conference

20 October 2006

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11th international CAN ConferenceMore than 120 engineers from all over the world attended the 11th international CAN Conference (iCC), which has been sponsored by Vector Scandinavia. About half of the participants came from Northern European countries. The majority of the 24 presentations were related to CANopen technology. All the presented papers are documented in the iCC proceedings available from CiA Headquarters. Prof. Dr. Gruhler, member of the iCC program committee, said after the conference: "The quality of the papers was in average very high, product placement is really an exception."

One of the most interesting applications presented was the distributed control system for hybrid electrical vehicles developed by the CDAC (Centre for Development of Advanced Computing) of the Indian government. Prototypes of the CANopen-based system were implemented in three-wheelers. The modules are based on the digital signal processor from Texas Instruments or on the micro-controller from Microchip. Most of the devices implement the CiA 401 device profile for generic I/O modules.

The Koncar Institute located in Croatia presented another interesting

application: The CANopen-based control system for the Zagreb tramcar.

The system uses three CANopen networks connecting the VMEbus-based vehicle control system and the three traction control units, the two auxiliary power controllers and several other modules including brake and door controllers. The hardware is based on Infineon's 8-bit micro-controller or on Texas Instruments' digital signal processor.

Several speakers testified that CAN is suitable for extreme applications: aircrafts, military vehicles, and in sub-sea instrumentation for the offshore oil and gas industry. Even if time-triggered CAN solutions are not yet successful in the automotive, three papers covered this topic. There was some discussion in the background of the conference on using TTCAN in non-automotive applications in conjunction with CANopen. Autosar, the software standardization project of carmakers, was mentioned in several papers as well as the Fibex fieldbus exchange format, a standardized XML format used to describe a gateway tool chain.

Several papers discussed the design and implementation of connecting networks by means of hubs, bridges, routers, and gateways. Besides the discussion on CAN-to-CAN internetworking, the papers introduced heterogeneous network systems with Ethernet-Powerlink, and AS-interface as well as FlexRay and LIN. The standardization of gateways has already

started: The CiA 400 specification describing CANopen-to-CANopen gateways is one of the first gateway standards. It has been prototyped in mining machines from Sandvik Tamrock. The prototype implements a two-level network system with five sub-layered CANopen networks backboned by a sixth one. Schneider-Electric reported on several standardized CANopen gateways for ModbusTCP (CiA 309), AS-Interface (CiA 446) and CANopen (CiA 400). The Powerlink-Ethernet gateway for CANopen presented by Ixxat is also based on the CiA 400 specification. The CiA 400 specification has been increasingly gaining importance, in particular in more complex systems that comprise several networks.

But not only standardized gateway technology is becoming more important.

NSI presented a contact-less CAN interface for the automotive aftermarket. The introduced capacitive probe allows access to the transmitted data without galvanic connection. Another presentation by Refu discussed the possibilities of mixing electrical and optical CAN networks by means of switches and mini-bridges.

As usual, the attendees used the possibility to exchange ideas and experiences during the breaks and in the evenings. "The talks beside the conference sometimes are more important as the conference itself," said Holger Zeltwanger, CiA Managing Director. "Maintaining already existing connections and meeting new interesting people is what most of the participants are interested in." This is also why the eleven tabletop exhibitors were satisfied. The location for the 12th iCC is not yet fixed, but the conference will take place in spring of 2008.

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