Cars have evolved rapidly over the last decade, moving from the analogue to the digital world. Technology such as video and audio entertainment systems, mobile communication, satellite navigation, voice operated controls and safety systems such as parking sensors and cameras rely on the high speed sharing of data around the vehicle.
Essentially cars are now mobile computers, with drivers and passengers expecting access to the internet and advanced services as they travel. Standards such as MOST (Media Oriented Systems Transport) are defining the communications architectures for today’s and tomorrow’s cars.
And this trend is gathering pace. We’ve all seen the self-driving cars being trialled by the likes of Google, and even basic cars now have the ability to park themselves without human interaction. Cars are expected to be a key part of the Internet of Things, which will share information in real-time between objects across the world. Applications such as traffic management, finding parking spaces and controlling congestion will all rely on the fast exchange of data inside and outside vehicles.
Plastic optical fibre (POF) is the perfect choice for distributing this data around the car. It is very stable for optical transmission over short distances and can handle huge amounts of information at high speeds. However modern manufacturing processes mean that the cable harness including the POF is installed in tight spaces, normally on a moving production line. This means that the POF needs to be protected as it enters and exits the main harness and meets the metalwork, often when it is under pressure and being bent to fit acute angles.
This is where PPC's Miniflex protection tube is increasingly being used. Light, strong and extremely flexible, it can be simply zipped over the POF where it needs protection. Able to withstand high pressure and with unrivalled crush resistance it prevents stress or damage to the POF both during manufacturing and over the life of the vehicle. Over 3.75 million metres (12.3 million feet) of Miniflex products have already been installed, protecting the safety and infoentertainment systems of high end cars. We’re even being used in the European Space Agency’s self-driving Mars Rover!
As cars become ever smarter, performance of electronic systems will be as critical to drivers as top speed and miles per gallon. Optical fibre networks will be at the heart of transmitting this information around the cars – protecting them will be crucial and we see this market growing rapidly for m2fx.