Consortia formed for diagnostics, wireless networking

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Germany’s DIANA consortium aims to improve diagnostics for vehicle electronics.


The continually expanding role of electronics in vehicles has prompted two consortia to focus on common technologies. A new German automotive group plans to improve diagnostics for electronics, while a consortium promoting communication standards for wireless sensor networking recently formed an automotive group.

Taking aim at reliability issues created by the growth of electronics, Audi AG, Continental AG, Infineon Technologies AG, and ZMD AG are examining ways to improve the analytic and diagnostic capabilities of electronic control units (ECUs).

Another group has expanded its reach into automotive, citing the large potential for wireless communications in areas from tire-pressure-monitoring systems (TPMSs) to vehicle-to-vehicle communications. The DASH7 Alliance, a wireless communications consortium was formed in 2009 by the Automotive Working Group that will promote the use of the ISO 18000-7 standard for sensor networking.

Sensor maker Melexis will head the automotive efforts of the DASH7 Alliance, whose membership includes automotive industry suppliers such as Analog Devices, STMicroelectronics, Texas Instruments, Dow, and Michelin. In a press release, the Alliance’s president called the auto industry “one of the largest sensor markets on the planet.” The license-free 433-MHz spectrum of DASH7 offers multikilometer range, multiyear battery life, sensor and security support, and tag-to-tag communications.

“The ultralow power consumption matches the TPMS lifetime constraints, while the multikilometer communication range is perfectly suited for car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure applications,” said Gilles Cerede, Melexis’ Product Line Manager for Wireless Automotive & Sensing. “Last but not least, DASH7 is compatible from a frequency point of view with existing remote keyless entry systems.”

The German diagnostic consortium will work for the next three years to create a basis for quicker and more efficient identification and correction of electronics faults in automobiles. The group is called DIANA, which is a German acronym that translates as “end-to-end diagnostic capabilities in semiconductor components and systems for analyzing persistent and sporadic errors in automobiles.”

The technology aims to detect possible malfunctions occurring during operation and retrieve relevant information directly from the semiconductor components. The ECU can then inform the driver on the status of the vehicle and provide mechanics in repair shops with a detailed diagnostic report. The group noted that this kind of end-to-end diagnostic capability will require close collaboration throughout the automotive-industry value chain, from semiconductor manufacturers to the suppliers of electronic control systems and automobile makers.

German research groups and universities will also help in the diagnostic effort. Funding of roughly €4.8 million will come from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The consortium hopes outcomes of the DIANA project will be incorporated into automotive electronics products beginning in 2015.

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