Modern automotive control applications require a holistic time-sensitive development. Nowadays, this is achieved by technologies specifically designed for the automotive domain, like FlexRay, which offer a fault-tolerant time synchronization mechanism built into the protocol. Currently, the automotive industry adopts the Ethernet within the car, not only for embedding consumer electronics, but also as a fast and reliable backbone for control applications. Still, low-cost but highly reliable sensors connected over the traditional Controller Area Network (CAN) deliver data needed for autonomous driving. To fusion the data efficiently among all, a common timebase is required. The alternative would be oversampling, which uses more time and energy, e.g., at least double the perception rates of sensors. Ethernet and CAN do require the latter by default. Hence, a global synchronization mechanism eases tremendously the design of a low power automotive network and is the foundation of a transparent global clock. In this article, we present the first step: Synchronizing legacy FlexRay networks to the upcoming Ethernet backbone, which will contain a precise clock over the generalized Precision Time Protocol (gPTP) defined in IEEE 802.1AS. FlexRay then could still drive its strengths with deterministic transmission behavior and possibly also serve as a redundant technology for fail-operational system design.
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