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The controller area network (CAN) protocol was originally introduced for automotive applications but is now also widely used in process control and many other industrial areas. In this paper, we present a low-cost redundancy-management scheme for replicated CAN channels that helps to ensure that clocks (and, hence, tasks) on the distributed nodes remain synchronized in the event of failures in the underlying communication channels, without the need for expensive or proprietary interface electronics. We argue that, when using this framework with duplicated channels, the probability of inconsistent message delivery drops to acceptable levels for a wide range of systems. Through an analysis of the protocol and a case study, we conclude that the creation of reliable, low-cost, distributed embedded systems using CAN is a practical possibility.
Date of Publication: May 2007