Cisco/General Motors

General Motors taps Cisco to accelerate in-car connectivity

Automotive giant becomes first manufacturer of its kind to deploy comms tech provider’s wireless backhaul technology for real-time, high-speed performance testing of pre-production vehicles

As reliable and instant access to performance data increasingly offers a critical advantage in the race to deliver electric and autonomous vehicles, General Motors (GM) has revealed it is working with Cisco to modernise and automate the development process for performance testing vehicle development data, accelerating time-to-market for commercially ready vehicles.

Real-time access to development data during vehicle performance testing had not been viable until recently, according to Cisco. Moreover, wireless LTE technology did not provide reliable connectivity when testing at high speed, said Cisco, so data was instead recorded locally and analysed off-site. It also observed that test equipment issues occurred frequently during driving sessions, and with no real-time visibility test engineers were required to re-run the same tests. The process exhausted time and resources.

Cisco noted that by using its wireless network architecture for real-time, pre-production performance testing at the GM Milford Proving Ground, multiple GM test engineers were able to actively monitor several hundred data channels simultaneously during a test run, to observe vehicle operation parameters and modify the test as it’s being conducted to optimise results and accelerate speed to innovation.

Since deploying wireless backhaul technology for vehicle-to-trackside connectivity, GM engineers are now capturing data from vehicle sensors during performance testing in real time and adjusting the vehicle on the track, streamlining the process and saving time. GM is said to be the first auto manufacturer to roll out this methodology, which can significantly reduce testing time.

Cisco’s wireless backhaul technology is claimed to combine the reliability and speed of fibre connectivity with the flexibility of wireless communications. It delivers up to 500Mbps wireless with what are described as “seamless” handoffs and private mobile connectivity for mission-critical applications.

“As GM accelerates the shift to electric vehicles, every minute counts,” said Anthony Bolton, CIO and CTO for global telecommunication and end-use services, infrastructure and development at General Motors. “Using the network and its data to accelerate our performance testing is the type of innovation that delivers real business value as we transition from automaker to platform innovator.”

“As we move toward our vision of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion, autonomous vehicle development is key. Cisco’s technology is helping to make this move a reality”
Stephen Jenkins, GM

Stephen Jenkins, director of global labs, proving grounds operations and materials engineering at GM, said: “Since deploying Cisco wireless backhaul at the performance tracks of our Milford Proving Ground, we now have stable and secure wireless network connections in this environment, where we have vehicle speeds that can exceed 100mph.

“This connectivity allows us to perform real-time analysis and stream information directly into our enterprise datacentre without any buffering or human intervention. As we move toward our vision of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion, autonomous vehicle development is key. The ability to seamlessly transition between simulation and physical testing requires large amounts of data to move between systems quickly and efficiently. Cisco’s technology is helping to make this move a reality.”

Cisco’s industrial internet of things (IoT) networking portfolio also includes wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi, cellular 4G LTE/5G, LoRaWAN as well as wireless backhaul.

Commenting on how such technologies were being deployed at GM, Vikas Butaney, chief product officer and vice-president/general manager at Cisco IoT, said: “Technologies like Cisco Ultra-Reliable Wireless Backhaul are fundamental to achieving ubiquitous connectivity in cars, smart cities and beyond.

“We are driving the future of connectivity with the network backbone to transform valuable data into actionable insights. This is a huge testament to how GM can change the way they address key customer transportation needs and redefine personal mobility.”

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