Enhanced Determinism and MOSA Alignment in Embedded Vehicle Systems Presented by DornerWorks at GVSETS

Posted on August 16, 2023 by Matthew Russell

In the relentless pursuit of providing the modern warfighter with advanced capabilities fortified by cyber resiliency, a pivotal challenge has emerged in the domain of Army ground vehicle systems. In response, DornerWorks engineers have a groundbreaking solution for enhancing determinism that promises to reshape the landscape of embedded vehicle systems.

This solution is detailed in the paper, “Deterministic & Modular Architecture for Embedded Vehicle Systems,” presented by DornerWorks embedded engineer Zach Clark at the Ground Vehicle Systems Engineering & Technology Symposium & Modernization Update (GVSETS).

The next generation of Army ground vehicle systems is primed to harness the potential of Ethernet technology. Ethernet’s remarkable scalability and high bandwidth afford the capacity to process voluminous sensor data with minimal latency. However, a stark drawback lies in Ethernet’s inherent lack of determinism—a feature indispensable for ensuring bounded message latency, particularly for the seamless operation of ground vehicle weapon and crew station functions. The conventional Ethernet paradigm falls short of meeting the stringent safety and functional requisites demanded by Army vehicle systems due to this inherent determinism gap.

Enter the Modular Open System Approach (MOSA) initiatives, epitomized by the Ground Combat System Common Infrastructure Architecture (GCIA). These initiatives harness the potency of open standards such as Time-Sensitive Networking (TSN) to achieve real-time, deterministic communication across Ethernet networks. TSN augments regular Ethernet by enabling the logical segmentation of deterministic and traditional best-effort network traffic, harmoniously transmitted over the same physical medium.

Clark’s paper unveils a transformative reference architecture, a fusion of pivotal components from GCIA, including TSN, seamlessly integrated with embedded virtualization technologies to invigorate system safety and security. The centerpiece of this innovation is the seL4 microkernel, serving as a launching pad to deploy virtualized guests and containers on a representative embedded platform for ground vehicle electronics—the ARMv8 Cortex-A53. By synergizing the isolation capabilities of hypervisors with the logical segmentation afforded by TSN, this architectural masterpiece begets a partitioned framework that elevates system assurance to new heights. Aspects of this approach and technology have already found a home across multiple DEVCOM-GVSC programs.

In another presentation, DornerWorks engineer Alex Pavey presented a paper titled “Electronic Control Unit (ECU) Resiliency with the seL4 Hypervisor.” In addition to the paper presentations, DornerWorks is a prominent presence in booth #429 at GVSETS, scheduled August 15 -17, 2023. The DornerWorks booth showcases the practical applications of secure software isolation, time-sensitive networking, and SOSA-aligned containers, providing attendees with a tangible glimpse into the future of resilient vehicle systems.

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Matthew Russell
by Matthew Russell