Rugged Embedded Computers Enabling Onboard SD-WAN

From first responder fleets to trucking companies, the need for reliable wireless WAN access has become crucial, especially with the rapid growth of IoT devices and Internet-based applications. Extending network connectivity to vehicles is key to improving fleet-based businesses, but implementing an in-vehicle network deployment can be challenging, especially regarding communication reliability.

A fanless and rugged embedded computer with multi-modems is critical for onboarding SD-WAN in vehicles. This automotive embedded system should provide the right capabilities to improve reliability, QoS, coverage, mobility, and even security — features that can be quite challenging to fulfill in large-scale fleet networks.



Advantages of SD-WAN on Vehicles

Transportation-based organizations with entire fleets would need distributed vehicles and Vehicle Area Networks (VANs) to connect to a central headquarters. Wireless connectivity is the only choice for these fleets dependent on the Internet and WAN. But to connect an entire distributed moving fleet to the primary office via limited WAN transport networks can be challenging.

A rugged embedded computer with an onboard vehicle Software-Defined WAN (SD-WAN) solution perfectly fits this case. With this technology, the entire WAN can be programmatically configured and managed. Fleet-based organizations can leverage this virtual WAN to allow any combination of transport services suitable for vehicles, including WiFi, LTE, or other broadband Internet services.


  1. Improve network redundancy and availability. A purpose-built rugged embedded computer with multiple modems that intelligently routes traffic will improve the availability and uptime based on decision-making parameters like signal strength, latency, jitter, etc. If a WAN link fails, it can move a vehicle’s business-critical traffic over a secondary link, leaving less-relevant traffic on the primary connection.


  1. Cost-efficiency. An onboard SD-WAN vehicle solution can also lower costs by providing a balance between intelligent path selection (maximizing bandwidth) and the passive/active nature of SD-WAN links. Also, for fleet organizations that depend on Internet or cloud-based services, SD-WAN reduces the need to backhaul traffic to headquarters using the WAN backbone. SD-WAN can leverage low-cost Internet access and provide direct cloud access.


  1. Enhanced Security. SD-WAN solutions also offer built-in security features. Aside from intelligently routing WAN traffic over a selected VPN path for added security, SD-WAN can also integrate with other security services. Fleet SD-WAN deployments may benefit from Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) to improve network and data security. When organizations adopt SD-WAN and SASE, they can leverage cloud-native security functions like secure web gateways, firewalls, zero-trust network access, and many cloud access security brokers.


The Rugged Embedded Computer V4G Enabling Onboard SD-WAN

A fanless and rugged embedded computer built for in-vehicle communication is vital for achieving reliable and high-quality SD-WAN connectivity within challenging vehicle scenarios. This device should have multiple modems for redundant communications, a rich in-vehicle I/O within compact dimensions, and a high-performance processor designed for IoT.

The V4G is an automotive embedded system powered by multi-modems and enhanced for mobile SD-WAN communications.


Rugged Embedded Computer with Multi-modems to enable Onboard SD-WAN.
Expanded with PGN-600 for access to FirstNet.
Wide temperature, vibration and shock tolerance.


The V4G is designed for in-vehicle and fleet networks SD-WAN deployments. It features an IoT-enhanced CPU, rich I/O functionality, and a robust fanless design that withstands challenging conditions— making V4G highly applicable for the smart vehicle evolution.

V4G Relevant Features.

  • IoT-enhanced CPU. The rugged embedded computer comes with the next-generation 10 nm process SoC (System-on-Chip)— a QuadCore Intel Atom® x6211E Processor (Elkhart Lake).
  • Multi-modem in-vehicle computer. V4G comes with three PGN series removable caddies; one M.2 3042 B key socket with dual nano-SIM slot for 4G/LTE and one M.2 2230 E key socket for WiFi.
  • Rich I/O functionality. V4G includes three GbE Ethernet ports for VAN (Vehicle Area Network), three USB2.0 ports, two HDMI ports for displays, and two serial COM ports. In addition, V4G also comes with support for GPS and CAN bus.
  • Fanless and rugged. The fanless and rugged embedded computer is compliant with E-13 standard and certified with MIL-STD-810G for shock and vibration resistance. The device also supports a wide range of temperatures (from -40 to 70°C).

This rugged embedded computer runs with the QuadCore Intel Atom® x6211E Processor (Elkhart Lake). A processor designed for the embedded computer operating at wide temperatures and enhanced for IoT edge device communications. In addition, the processor provides next-level CPU, graphics performance, real-time response, and low-power consumption.

Processing is only half of the story when it comes to onboarding SD-WAN. Communication is the other essential characteristic of an automotive embedded system. The V4G is a multi-modem in-vehicle SD-WAN solution that combines cellular data from multiple network carriers, resulting in a cost-efficient, high-speed, and highly reliable Internet (or WAN) connection. V4G comes with dual nano-SIM slots for 4G/LTE and a WiFi socket. It also provides three PGN series removable caddies to support 4G/LTE cellular communications, PTCRB, AT&T, Verizon, and First Responders Network (FirstNet).

With V4G, fleet-based organizations can also combine and bond connections. Take multiple mobiles and wireless WAN links and combine them for additional load balancing or fault tolerance. Internet bonding can also optimize and maximize the bandwidth.


Use cases for the multi-modem rugged embedded computer.

The in-vehicle or fleet-based applications that require the highest levels of network reliability, uptime, agility, and security, should leverage the multi-modem and SD-WAN-ready automotive embedded system. Such applications include passenger services such as infotainment, guest WiFi, or digital signage, vehicle tracking (GPS or telematics), fleet security and management, SD-WAN for First Responders (FirstNet-Ready), Point-of-Sale (POS) solutions (central dispatch connectivity and e-reporting and ticketing), and more.

1.   First Responders.

EMS, police, or fire department vehicles need highly reliable and available communications. For instance, a first responders vehicle would often connect to a WiFi network in the parking lot to upload field-collected data to the headquarters. WiFi helps upload the information quickly and avoids extra mobile data expenses. But when an emergency arises, these vehicles need to move swiftly into the streets, where WiFi is out of range. This moment is where SD-WAN’s intelligent path selection can quickly change the WAN link to an LTE mobile network. First responder’s vehicles need 24/7 high reliability and uptime to receive or send emergency information. A FirstNet-ready in-vehicle SD-WAN solution ensures high network reliability for First Responders by allowing access to FirstNet and other commercial networks.

2. Trucking and hauling companies.

Companies that provide trucking and hauling services depend entirely on their fleet. Fleet management and monitoring solutions are essential for the success of these companies. A rugged embedded computer with in-vehicle SD-WAN will help streamline work processes, improve communication between driver and manager, track the location of vehicles, improve telematics, optimize fuel efficiency, and more. An onboard fleet management solution can also leverage video data. A rugged embedded computer with onboard NVR, for instance, can collect, save, and transmit data from video cameras and other telematics data. Such data is vital for security, monitoring driving behaviors, evidence and proof, and even for supporting law enforcement with footage.

Photo by S. Tsuchiya on Unsplash

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