Ultrawideband Engine-Area Network Lets Sensors Talk Under the Hood

Turkish RF engineers' scheme paves the way toward wireless sensor networks in engine compartments

2 min read
Ultrawideband Engine-Area Network Lets Sensors Talk Under the Hood
Illustration: Randi Klett; Car: iStockphoto

A decade ago, “drive by wire” and “brake by wire” were the awe-inducing buzzwords emblematic of progress from mechanical to electronic systems. But as the number of sensors and other electronic gadgets under the hood and throughout the rest of the vehicle has increased engineers have found it more difficult to find space for all that wire. What’s more: wires cost money that car companies would rather not spend; add weight to the vehicles, affecting their performance and fuel economy; make assembly more challenging; and ratchet up the possibility of maintenance issues.

So, now the aim is to get rid of most of the wires snaking through a vehicle. And in a time when Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cellular communications are ubiquitous, it seems only natural that car companies would solve this problem by going wireless. But creating robust intra-vehicular wireless sensor networks is easier said than done. All that metal in the engine compartment and the vibration of those moving parts are a multipath nightmare. But researchers at Koc University, in Istanbul say they have worked out a theoretical map of nodes in what is essentially an engine-area wireless network featuring ultrawideband communications. Ultrawideband, wrote the researchers, is “resistant against multipath fading and signal power attenuation providing robust communication at low transmission power and high communication rate.”

They recently detailed their results of a real world tryout of their scheme in IEEE Transactions on Vehicular Technology. They put 19 sensors in the engine compartments of a Fiat Linea and a Peugeot Bipper. After running tests to analyze the validity of their theoretical engine channel model across a wide range of scenarios, the Koc researchers concluded that, “The small variations of the model parameters for different types and conditions of the vehicle demonstrate the reliability of the proposed simulation model built based on an extensive set of measurements.” In other words, the real-world tests proved out what they predicted with equations: sensors can reliably relay the data they collect without physical links.

The Koc University team says it will now turn its attention to other parts of the vehicle including the passenger cabin.

The Conversation (0)

2021 Top 10 Tech Cars


The trend toward all-electric is accelerating 

1 min read
Photo: Rimac Automobili

The COVID-19 pandemic put the auto industry on its own lockdown in 2020. But the technological upheavals haven't slowed a bit.

The march toward electric propulsion, for example, continued unabated. Nine of our 10 Top Tech Cars this year are electrically powered, either in EV or gas-electric hybrid form. A few critical model introductions were delayed by the virus, including the debut of one of our boldface honorees: the long-awaited 2021 Lucid Air electric sedan. It's expected to hit the market in a few months. But the constellation of 2021's electric stars covers many categories and budgets, from the ultra-affordable, yet tech-stuffed Hyundai Elantra Hybrid to the US $2.4 million Rimac C Two hypercar.

Keep Reading ↓ Show less