A true “robot car” hasn’t pulled into driveways just yet, but today’s advanced driver-assistance systems are already very effective at taking over traditional behind-the-wheel duties, such as lane centering and object detection.

The improving ADAS features require changes to automotive design architectures, particularly regarding data communication.

ADAS increasingly relies upon a tech setup known as “sensor fusion.” The fused framework enables a more detailed view of a car’s surroundings, as a high-level signal processing unit pulls together data from all of the car’s camera, radar, lidar, and other sensors.

To support the required signal processing of sensor fusion, automotive manufacturers have found a role for Ethernet. The network connection offers speeds of 100 megabits per second, and higher rates are expected in the future.

So, what’s possible as data rates increase?

In a Webinar titled Connectivity Solutions for Robust Data Transmission in Future Vehicle Wiring Systems, a reader asked Christian Rusch from the Switzerland-based datacom technology company TE Connectivity:

“Which applications in future vehicles will require huge data rates of 20 gigabits per second or higher?”

Read Dr. Rusch’s edited response below.

Christian Rusch, Manager R&D Data Connectivity, TE Connectivity: To be honest, there are very different opinions of the needs of these high data rates, within the community. Some people say that wired connections of 10 gigabits per second are already more than needed for all future car applications, but I’ll say that modern vehicles with more autonomous features will need 25 or even 50 gigabits per second.

One fast connection that might really require more than 20 gigabits per second is the backbone connector between two redundant high-speed signal processing units. That means that, for a high-autonomy-grade car with a really high level of autonomous driving features, redundancy will be very important, due to the high safety standards of that car.

In that case, one solution that I’ve seen more often could be that the sensor fusion unit doing the complete signal processing to drive the car exists physically two times in the car, but also at different positions because of redundancy. Data synchronization between the two units could be required. For this, I see that these enormous data rates could be realistic.

Another example: For point-to-point links regarding cameras and displays, I don’t believe that a single camera will require data rates above 25 gigabit rates or more, because that would be a very, very high resolution. But maybe the architectures will contain daisy-chain connections where several cameras and displays could lead to data rates above 25 gigabits per second.

What do you think? Will future vehicles require data rates of 25 gigabits per second?