An industry research group is ready to endorse a standard developed in Germany as the high-speed fiber optic network for the global auto industry.
Adoption of the standard will influence the development of automotive navigation, information and entertainment devices. Those devices need a high-speed network, or bus, to communicate with each other and with the vehicle.
The issue is being researched by the Automotive Multimedia Interface Collaboration, a group of 12 automakers dedicated to establishing global standards for automotive multimedia and telematics connections.
The standard likely to be approved is known as MOST - for Media Oriented Systems Transport. It was developed by the MOST Cooperation in Karlsruhe, Germany, a group whose members include DaimlerChrysler AG and BMW AG.
'I have been told by steering committee members that represent the large majority of our members that they will vote to endorse MOST,' said Russell Shields, executive director of the Automotive Multimedia Interface Collaboration.
The group's next management committee meeting is scheduled for Jan. 9-11 in Las Vegas, though it is not certain if a vote will be taken.
As the amount of in-vehicle multimedia increases, an adoption of a standard high-speed bus is significant to automakers and suppliers because it will:
1. Help reduce costs associated with in-vehicle electronics development and service through the use of standardized components and development software.
2. Make it possible for vehicle owners to upgrade vehicle electronics.
3. Allow vehicle owners to receive audio, video and telematics services such as cell phones with digital output.
The German system works five times as fast as the D2B high-speed bus used by Mercedes-Benz and Jaguar, said Myron Trenne, vice president for advanced technology at Yazaki North America Inc. of Canton, Mich.
Yazaki is one of the suppliers of the optical connectors and fibers that are part of the MOST bus. Yazaki also supplies the gateways that would connect a high-speed bus to a vehicle's low-speed bus.
Vehicles use a low-speed bus called CAN for communication between the engine and transmission. However, the Automotive Multimedia Interface Collaboration has endorsed an improved low-speed bus, called IDB-C, which also can accommodate some additional low-speed multimedia functions.
Another high-speed bus the collaboration has been evaluating is called IEEE 1394, which is one of the networks used by consumer electronics companies for their multimedia products. Although Shields said IEEE 1394 is not robust enough for automotive applications according to the collaboration's guidelines, the group will continue to evaluate it as a possible high-speed standard.
The readiness of MOST for automotive applications, Trenne said, is its biggest advantage over IEEE 1394. However, the use of any standard, he said, will benefit the industry and consumers.
'When the first videotape players came out, there was Beta Max or VHS,' Trenne said. 'The (automotive) industry is trying to avoid that confusion.'