Contactless- CAN: Safe Data Reading from Any CAN Bus

If you have been exploring the benefits telematics have to offer to fleet management, the term ‘CAN bus’ will sound familiar. CAN stands for Controller Area Network, a serial network technology developed to replace complicated and heavy wiring systems that used to connect electronic devices in vehicles. Manufacturers were quick to adopt the technology and today the CAN bus is a standard solution to transfer information between the electronic systems that modern vehicles are equipped with.

Since the introduction of the Fleet Management Systems Interface (FMS), a standard interface to vehicle data of commercial vehicles, it has become relatively simple to extend the CAN bus with additional applications. 

A telematics goldmine for fleet management

When it comes to efficient fleet management, the benefits of extracting data from CAN buses are countless. The CAN bus in trucks, for example, registers a wide range of vehicle parameters such as fuel consumption, vehicle speed, pedal position, or idle fuel use, just to mention a few.

In short, access to CAN bus data allows carriers to take full control of the fleet and, by identifying problem areas, develop applicable policies to promote efficiency in terms of cost-effectiveness and improved safety. The added operational insight will boost fleet performance and minimize environmental impact, the most pressing issue in this day and age.


It is easy to see why the telematics industry is so eager to read and interpret CAN bus data - the question is how to get access to this wealth of information.

The old way: direct contact

To extract data from the CAN bus, a CAN reader needs to be installed in the vehicle.

In the not-so-distant past, installing a CAN reader was a tricky operation that required competence - and some luck. Even then, it carried several serious risks.

When installation requires direct contact –i.e. a wire-to-wire connection - there are many things to go wrong. Loosely connected wires or wires connected in the incorrect order, and pierced insulation are among the most common causes for communication errors. Direct contact also raises a red flag for safety concerns as it jeopardizes safety-critical systems in the vehicle.

Assuming everything goes smoothly, there is still one crucial issue you need to deal with: the vehicle’s warranty will be lifted as a result of cable cutting. This, understandably, has been a major concern for fleet operators.

Contactless connection: the non-intrusive option

In response to the above issues, contactless CAN bus reader solutions offer an option to access vehicle signals – without galvanic connection. This non-intrusive installation option offers multiple advantages, with easy installation being one major benefit: contactless CAN bus readers can connect to the vehicle CAN bus at any accessible locations (not only at connectors). Since there are no wires to cut, they are reusable and can be moved to any other vehicle at any time – avoiding warranty issues through and through.

Telematics Ebook

The CL-CAN sensor: a universal solution for data extraction

Decrypting vehicle CAN protocol is Inventure’s primary competitive advantage. We can retrieve data from the CAN bus network of any vehicle rapidly and translate them to FMS standards.

Inventure’s Contactless CAN sensor was designed to deliver flexible performance in a variety of application areas including

▪      Fuel management;
▪      Vehicle dynamics;
▪      ECO driving;
▪      Signal converters (e.g. speed signal for taximeter);
▪      On-board display (e.g. vehicle weight display, FMS display)

While developing a universal solution in terms of both capability and ease of use, quick and easy installation – one that will not void the manufacturer’s warranty - remained in the center of our efforts. Removing the sensor and relocate it in another vehicle is just as straightforward and may be repeated limitlessly.

The stable signal transmission even in over-saturated traffic was also among the top priorities in the development process. Inventure’s CL-CAN sensor ensures safe data reading from the vehicle’s CAN bus. The non-galvanic connection guarantees enhanced safety: the one-way data transmission means there is no signal sent back to the vehicle CAN bus, and so third party tampering with the device can be avoided.

A led is added to provide optical status feedback on successful setup or to indicate improper installation, such as connecting to the wrong wires or swapping the CAN high and low wires, some mistakes commonly made.

The CL-CAN sensor was designed with a broad range of compatibility in mind: besides Inventure’s FMS Gateway CAN bus interface, the sensor works with any independent GPS based vehicle tracking (AVL)system.

Inventure’s mission is helping companies from multiple industries to achieve greater efficiency and cost savings. If you are looking for solutions to improve your fleet operations, our team is available to provide advice and engineering.

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