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Controller Area Network (CAN)

Definition - What does Controller Area Network (CAN) mean?

A Controller Area Network (CAN) bus is a communication system made for vehicle intercommunication. This bus allows many microcontrollers and different types of devices to communicate with each other in real time and also without a host computer. A CAN bus, unlike Ethernet, does not require any addressing schemes, as the nodes of the network use unique identifiers. This provides the nodes with information regarding the priority and the urgency of the transmitted message. These buses also continue transmission even in the case of a collision, while normal Ethernet terminates connections as soon as a collision is detected. It is a completely message-based protocol, and is used mainly in vehicles.

Techopedia explains Controller Area Network (CAN)

The Controller Area Network was developed in 1986 by Robert Bosch. Newer models of automobiles may have more than 70 Electronic Control Units (ECU), of which the most important is the engine control unit. Communication between these nodes is very important, as data is constantly being transported between these nodes.The CAN system was developed in order to fill in the communication gaps which often arise when a particular subsystem of ECUs needs information from a sensor in another subsystem. One of the best features of such communications is that the vehicle can actually respond to certain situations quickly, and it is much less expensive to implement when compared to those features which are wired in the vehicle system. However, the scope of the Controller Area Network is not limited to vehicular communications only. These systems are also used in communication between the different microcontrollers in embedded systems and also in the communication systems for smart devices.

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