Aptiv has launched zone controllers which distribute high-speed data and power between sensors and peripherals, while separating input/output (I/O) from compute in the vehicle.
As part of the supplier's Smart Vehicle Architecture, the zone controllers allow OEMs to break apart the vehicle's physical complexity into more manageable zones and further drive up-integration of distributed ECUs, reducing the weight and lowering total system costs in the vehicle.

Kevin Clark, president and CEO, said: "[Our] powerful zone controllers sit at the intersection of these capabilities, helping them reduce complexity, weight and cost, while putting customers one step closer to the software-defined, electric vehicles of the future."

As a high-speed data and power hub, zone controllers simplify complexity by separating I/O from compute, while supporting standard interfaces and enabling plug and play devices. Instead of connecting directly to a dedicated ECU, devices connect to a zone controller, which then connects to a domain controller over a single common interface. This reduces complexity and improves scalability by allowing domain controllers to focus on higher-level software while maintaining a separate development cycle from the I/O. It also simplifies wiring harnesses to allow more automated assembly and reduces costs.

There are several key benefits for next-generation vehicles:

  • Reduced Complexity: Breaking apart the physical complexity of the vehicle simplifies manufacturing while enabling automation to ensure quality and lower cost, while up-integration of distributed ECUs provides compute functionality inside the zones that can be used for feature consolidation
  • Intelligent Power Management: The zone controllers manage power distribution throughout a vehicle centrally. In the past, wires needed to allow enough tolerance for peak load without having a melting fuse blow. With the benefits of smart fusing, wires can be specified to the physical limit of the load over a specified period of time. This also allows zone controllers to be flexibly located, which simplifies packaging and reduces cost
  • Predictive Maintenance: Software can detect when wires attached to the zone controller are close to failing and pass that information back to predictive maintenance systems, helping drivers and fleet operators address potential problems before they affect vehicle operation