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        Information networks drive new opportunities for
        commercial vehicles—both conventional and electric


                                             There are a host of commercial vehicles   Internal-combustion engines produce power

                                             that require complex interconnect systems,   that can be difficult to control in certain

                                             such as agricultural vehicles that precisely   situations. When the driver accelerates,

                                             monitor sprayer output; commercial buses   the vehicle tends to burst forward, and

                                             with Wi-Fi networks and plug-and-play   the immediate torque produces wear on

                                             entertainment systems for passengers;   gears, bearings, wheels, and tires. Electric

                                             school buses with multiple security   engines, on the other hand, can be more

                                             and driver-assist camera systems; and   finely controlled when under acceleration,

                                             emergency vehicles that process critical   leading to reduced wear.

                                             data from patient monitoring equipment.
                                                                                  In addition, regulation of commercial

                                             As a result, many commercial vehicles   vehicles in the US, Europe, and China
          The HSAutoLink  interconnect system from Molex
                                             employ sophisticated interconnect systems   is becoming stricter, and vehicle
          is an unsealed, USB-based system based on
          shrouds and latches that meet USCAR standards,   with high-speed shielding that are capable   manufacturers are being tasked with
          while HSAutoLink II uses fully protected perimeter   of processing data at speeds in the Gb/s   reducing the levels of pollution their
        seals and wire seals rated to IP67 and IP69K to   range. Moreover, these interconnect   vehicles create. One of the best ways to
        protect the system in off-road environments.
                                             systems are evolving to meet the specific   accomplish that is to convert at least part of
        Connectors used in commercial vehicles   needs of commercial vehicle designers.  commercial vehicle fleets to electric motors.
        have always needed to provide higher   For example, one available interconnect   As a result, manufacturers are looking for
        performance under more rugged conditions   system is an unsealed, USB-based system   help from suppliers to reduce the costs of
        than those used in passenger cars and   that has been proven in conventional   manufacturing commercial electric vehicles.
        trucks. Now they must also facilitate   automotive applications. Typical USB   In discussions with customers, all are
        advanced networking under harsh      connections are passive, unlatched,   asking for industry-standard products for
        conditions, providing all the benefits of   plug-in connectors, but automotive USB   electric vehicles that will help drive needed
        high-speed networks found in standard   applications must be latched. As a result,   manufacturing cost reductions.
        automobiles as well as greater protection   this new system is based on shrouds and
        from vibration and fluid ingress. They also   latches that meet USCAR standards.  Designing electrical systems for electric
        must accomplish this while housed in more                                 commercial vehicles can be challenging.
        complex and denser packages.         However, commercial vehicles—particularly   For one, they typically require 4/0 gauge
                                             those involved in off-road applications—  wires, which have bare diameters of 0.46
        COMMUNICATIONS                       may require sealed systems that offer   inches, so designers have the challenge
                                             additional protection against vibration and   of configuring large cable assemblies with
        Systems that combine high-speed      fluid ingress. For that reason, a version of   many turns and bends. Alternating-current,
        connectors and cable technology are   the same system, but for a commercial   multi-phase motors also create EMI, as do
        required to deliver the high volumes of   vehicle customer, provides fully protected   4/0 gauge wires that carry 400A of current.
        information needed in today’s connected   perimeter seals and wire seals rated to IP67   As a result, components must be shielded,
        commercial vehicles, including semi-  and IP69K for use in off-road environments.  which complicates cable and connector
        autonomous and fully autonomous ones.   AN ELECTRIFYING FUTURE            design. Also, when electrical motors run
        These communications systems typically                                    at full power, current resistance can lead
        include devices such as video cameras   Another trend driving expanded networking   to overheating, so these vehicles require
        and sensors that produce large volumes of   is the growth of hybrid and full-electric   extremely low-resistance electrical systems,
        high-speed data. Also, some commercial   commercial vehicles – particularly for   typically with resistance measured in micro-
        vehicles have complex sensor and control   construction and mining – based on the    ohms.
        systems that assist drivers with crucial   need for more efficient power application
        tasks, such as automatic braking.    and reduced vehicle emissions.
                                                               Originally published in Connector and Cable Assembly Supplier (October 2015)
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