A Controller Area Network (CAN) is a feature of a vehicle that allows for proper functioning when considering many systems of that vehicle working together as a whole. How do these systems communicate with each other? For example, how does the steering system talk to the braking system? CAN Communication allows for this dialogue between systems through Electronic Control Units (ECUs).

Another way to think about the CAN is that it is the nervous system, enabling communication between all parts of the body. Similarly, the ECUs are ‘nodes’ which are like muscles connected via the CAN bus, altogether acting as a central networking system.

CAN bus is the common communication medium through which ECUs communicate. Each ECU has a transmitter and a receiver.  They transmit their messages to the CAN bus, and all the ECUs including the one that sends the message, receives that message.  Once the message is understood by the system, a decision is made and carried out.

CAN Communications is part of all LHPU training courses so engineers can have a better understanding of the communication necessary for optimal performance of a vehicle. For an introduction on how CAN Communications and the SAE J1939 communication protocol works within a vehicle setting, watch the video provided by LHPU Training Solutions.

Written by Sarah McClellan