Carputers | Car Computers (All You Need to Know)

Carputers | Car Computers (All You Need to Know)

Premio designs and manufactures several types of rugged carputers that can be used for a variety of edge computing applications, such as autonomous vehicles, fleet telematics management, mass transportation, railway and transit, as well as security and surveillance.

We understand that rugged car computers are deployed in harsh environments where they are often exposed to freezing cold, and scorching hot temperatures, as well as frequent shocks and vibrations and so edge computers have been ruggedized to ensure that they operate reliably regardless of the environment in which they are placed.

Ruggedizing carputers enables them to withstand exposure to the hottest and coldest environments, humidity, frequent shocks and vibrations, as well as dust and debris while providing reliable computer power at the edge.

Rugged car computers must perform reliably 24/7. For example, autonomous vehicles often rely on rugged edge vehicle computers to guide them; if the computer is unable to make decisions in real-time to steer the vehicle, the vehicle could collide with another vehicle or human being, resulting in the loss of life. That’s why manufacturers of rugged in-car computer systems stress test all systems to ensure that they can operate efficiently and reliably regardless of the environment in which they are placed.

Additionally, rugged car computing is essential for some applications, such as autonomous vehicles because such vehicles cannot rely on the cloud to guide them. This is so because vehicles are traveling very fast, almost 90 feet per second on the highway, and so relying on the cloud to analyze data and make a decision will inevitably result in a collision because of the time required to send/receive data and have it analyzed in the cloud, and have a response sent to the vehicle.

As such, vehicle computers are almost always used to guide cars in order to prevent them from colliding because they can make real-time decisions in as little as a single millisecond vs. the cloud’s few seconds.

What is An In-Car Computer System?

An In-car computer system is essentially a ruggedized industrial edge computer that is able to monitor, analyze, and process data from various sensors located on a vehicle. Vehicles often have many sensors that continuously feed carputers with information, such as engine speed, engine status, airflow, fuel temperature, and more through the CAN Bus Network. This is all vital information that is essential for large fleets.

Car computer systems come equipped with GPS and wireless connectivity, allowing the vehicle to communicate with the cloud and other vehicles. The rich connectivity can also connect the vehicle to IoT devices for advanced telematics and remote monitoring.

Real-time access to telematics is vital for trucking fleet managers because it allows them to monitor vehicle data in real-time, make informed strategic decisions when planning truck routes, maintenance, and repairs.

What Are In-Car Computer Systems Used For?

In-car computer systems can be used for a variety of different applications. The most popular uses for rugged edge car computers are advanced telematics and remote monitoring, autonomous operation, vehicle entertainment, mobile security, and mobile computing.

Again, the rugged design and build of carputers make deploying them in remote environments where they will be exposed to frequent shocks and vibrations, extreme temperatures, and possible dust and debris. Rugged carputers are great for deployment in commercial vehicles, truck fleets, railways, and other transportation vehicles.

What Are Some Common Features Offered By Carputers?

Rugged carputers come with a variety of features. Here are the top features provided by Premio’s line carputers:

1. Power Ignition Control

Premio's in-car computers come equipped with power ignition management, which can link the power supply to the ignition system, allowing users to control on/off delay time setting to ensure that the system properly starts up and shuts down to ensure that data is not lost or corrupted when the system turns off or shuts down. This function can be toggled between both PC or Car mode in order to provide better flexibility for versatile mobile deployments.

2. Power Protection & Wide Voltage Input

Car computers are designed with a wide input voltage, ranging from 9 to 50VDC for compatibility with a number of different power input scenarios. Also, carputers computers offer a number of built-in power protection options.

Here are some of those protections:

Overvoltage and Under-voltage Protection

Car computer system come equipped with over-voltage protection, which redirects electrical output when the voltage of an in-vehicle computer system exceeds a specific threshold. This prevents damage to the system's electrical components, as well as any other damages or malfunctions from occurring. 

Additionally, carputers come equipped with under-voltage protection. When our car computing system detects under-voltage, it will safely shut down the system to protect it. Under-voltage is usually caused when there is a fluctuation in battery voltage or degradation. 

Reverse Polarity Protection

Reverse polarity protection is a necessary option for vehicle computers because it protects the system in the event that a battery is incorrectly installed or a vehicle is incorrectly jump started.

Overcurrent Protection

Car computing solutions come equipped with overcurrent protection, which corrects overcurrent caused by an overloaded, short circuit, or ground fault. Without this protection, automobile computer systems would overheat, and circuits would be destroyed if exposed to an overcurrent. 

3. Rugged Design & Build Quality

In-car computer systems are designed to withstand extremely hot and extremely cold temperatures with a wide temperature range between -40⁰C to 85⁰C, ensuring that the car computer system can run reliably 24/7 regardless of the temperature of their environment.  

Also, automotive computers can withstand a tremendous amount of shock and vibration up to 5GRMs vibration and 50Gs of shock. Additionally, rugged carputers can be placed in harsh environments filled with dust and debris. This is possible because the makers of automobile computing systems have adopted a fanless design that does not require any vents or openings. Instead, in-vehicle computers are passively cooled via the use of heatsinks. Thus, keeping dust and debris out of the system.  

Adding to the ruggedness of in-car computers is the use of M12 locking connectors, which are designed to prevent connections from coming loose. M12 connectors are essential for car computers because vehicles tend to stop and accelerate frequently, causing regular connections to come loose. As such, by utilizing M12 locking connectors, we have made car computing systems more rugged, enabling them to handle exposure to frequent shocks and vibrations.  

Furthermore, rugged auto computers come equipped with rugged storage solutions. Rugged storage solutions include SSDs, which are more resistant to shock and vibrations than hard drives (HDDs) since they store data on silicon chips vs a spinning disc. Therefore, since car computers are equipped with SSDs, they are more reliable and are able to handle the auto environment in which they will be placed. 

4. Rich Connectivity

Furthermore, edge computers come equipped with rich connectivity that includes 4G, LTE, and 5G thanks to SIM modules that provide car computers with cellular connectivity, permitting them to offload data to the cloud for remote monitoring and post-processing. Additionally, by equipping carputers with cellular connectivity, carputers can rely on cellular connectivity to offload data when Wi-Fi and wired internet connectivity are not available. 

Furthermore, carputers come equipped with 100BASE-T1 Ethernet, which is automotive specific ethernet, offering bandwidth of 100Mbs over an unshielded single twisted pair cable at a distance of 15 meters or 50 feet. 100BASE-T1 cables come with excellent EMI shielding when compared with the traditional 100BASE-TX solution. 100BASE-T1 Ethernet cables enable the communication of data such as audio, video, connected car data, and firmware/software updates to the automotive computer. 

5. Integration CAN Bus Protocol

The CAN Bus Protocol is a standard that allows microcontrollers, sensors, and vehicle systems to communicate with each other, enabling a smooth flow of communication. Said differently, the CAN acts as the central nervous system for vehicles, connecting all components of the vehicle together. On the other hand, the bus is the communication system that allows for the data to be transferred between all the different individual components. Rugged edge vehicle computers integrate with a car’s CAN Bus system to obtain live data in the form of CAN frames. CAN frames include vehicle speed, fuel level, fluid temperatures and pressure, tire pressure, and many other data flowing through the CAN Bus system.  

Learn more about CANBus - 

6. Low-Powered Computing

Carputers are equipped with low-powered processors that offer excellent performance per watt. They offer a balance of processing power and industrial grade reliability. Low powered processors are used in car computers because they make passively cooling car PCs possible thanks to their low TDP. Passive cooling creates a more reliable car computing solution because no fans are used, the less moving parts there are, the less parts that can fail. Also, the removal of fans means that the system is totally closed off, with no vent fans or opening through which dust and debris can enter into the system.  

Premio Industrial Grade Carputers 

Premio offers a wide variety of rugged carputers that are designed and tested to operate a variety of applications that include mass transportation, railway, security, and surveillance. Our rugged car computers are able to reliably operate in volatile environments that are not friendly to regular desktop computers.  


Additionally, our carputers are ideal for non-stop, real-time data processing and inference analysis at the edge. They are able to operate in extreme conditions while providing blazing fast performance, making our solutions great for trucking fleets, bus fleets, emergency vehicles, rail, bus, and other transit systems anywhere in the world. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) 

1. What is Rugged Edge Car Computing?

    Rugged edge car computing refers to data processing and analysis that occurs in a vehicle where the data is being generated. Car computers collect information from the various sensors and cameras of a vehicle and analyze it to make real-time decisions. Car edge computers have solved a critical problem that the cloud was unable to solve: real-time data analysis and decision making. Relying on the cloud was not possible because of the latency involved with sending and receiving information to and from a vehicle. As such, rugged car computers solved the problem by providing low-latency computing at the edge. 

    2. What technology is built into in-car computers?

      The in-car computers that Premio offers have several built-in technologies that include: power ignition control, power protection, rugged design, fanless design, and wide temperature design.  

      3. How are car computers mounted?

        Car computers can be mounted in a number of different location. For example, the most common mounting locations are the trunk of a vehicle, the engine compartment, the passenger footwell, or under the passenger seat. In-car computers can be mounted either horizontally or vertically. There is  a lot of freedom when choosing where to mount in-vehicle computers. 

        4. What are some popular industry certifications for car computers?

          E-mark: An e-mark certification is a European mark that is placed on electronic subassemblies that go into cars. The mark certifies that the product is compliant with local European laws and regulations. The AOC series of vehicle computers is E-Mark compliant, permitting the computing solution to be installed in vehicles. Additionally, in-car computers are EN50155 compliant, ensuring that automotive PCs are certified to operate reliably while being exposed to shocks, vibrations, unstable power supplies, EMC, power surges and electric discharges that are often present in car environments.