Planes, Trains and Automobiles: Getting Connected

April 26, 2012 - 2 Comments

The world of transportation is rapidly changing, which is in turn driving rapid change in the world of manufacturing. Transportation products of all kinds have had connectivity in some form for many years however; the connectivity was confusing, unreliable and often deficient in adequate bandwidth and technology to sustain a continuous stream of interactions between equipment and operation centers.  New means of M2M have emerged out of necessity, which have broadened the ecosystem of participants to include tech companies, service providers, and others.

As the need to optimize transportation efficiency, increase safety, reduce emissions, and deliver new revenue sources for service providers increases, tech companies as well as OEM’s are adapting new means of connecting machines to other machines within the world of transportation.  Mass transit changes for positive train control and unmanned automobile are examples of M2M technology enabling efficiency, safety and reliability. We see changes in the marine world as connected vessels optimize sea routes and offer more services to passengers and crews. Aviation is undergoing a similar change as bandwith is allocated for WiFi on airplanes for passengers and improved avionics. This is also driven by increased use of unmanned aviation vehicles (UAVs).

As a result, the new generation of products from leading manufacturing companies in a wide range of industries will enable increased profit pools for equipment monitoring, consumer services, and cloud based applications.

We are noting real leadership for example, in automotive where the connected vehicle is taking shape. And, if you’re driving in Nevada, you may find yourself on the road with an “autonomous vehicle.”

Several pervasive changes, well-worth tracking, are occurring in the area of standards, Ethernet convergence, and bandwidth availability.

  • Standards – A large number of leading companies are focused on creating a new range of standards for 802.3 focused on low latency and deterministic models.  Companies such as Cisco, General Motors, Bosch, Continental, and others  are engaged in a work group to study and recommend upgrades to standards for deterministic, low latency characteristics for networks. Many of these upgrades will enable a new set of capability for networks. This new capability will enable much wide adaption of Ethernet in a wide range of equipment.
  • Ethernet Convergence – Recent airplane designs, such as the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner, rely on Ethernet backbones to manage content and provide for data downloads and uploads for equipment condition and health monitoring. Similar technology is included or planned to be included in many other leading aviation products, including a new generation of UAVs.
  • Bandwidth Availability – Increases in bandwidth technology that provide greater connectivity are enabling new sources of bandwidth caused by 4G, LTE, and Satcom will deliver more robust networks.

Looking ahead to the future, we can expect to see an increase in investment from a range of leading companies to enable Ethernet based capabilities in a wide range of industries. New profit pools will enable new business models provided  by transport operators, service providers, and tech companies. This will result in  augmented services for operations, as well as consumer services.

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  1. Well its good to see companies like Cisco collaborating with big names in business world to upgrade transporation facilities and I really appreciate the idea of connecting various transport mediums through Ethernet technology.

    • I agree. the ability to do so much more for everyone in the transport ecosystem is becoming a reality. This will be a big change for the key transport industries such as aviation and mass transit. The Internet of Things is becoming more real as end points to machines are more robust and deterministic.
      Thanks for the comments.
      Kevin Sullivan