Technical Articles

How does CAN bus work?

CAN (Controller Area Network) bus is a robust communication protocol used in many industries, such as automotive and industrial automation. It allows multiple electronic devices to communicate with each other efficiently. In this article, we will explore the working principle of CAN bus and how it enables reliable data transmission.


CAN bus was initially developed by Robert Bosch GmbH in the 1980s for use in automobiles. Its primary goal was to replace the complex wiring harnesses that were previously used to interconnect various electronic components in vehicles. Today, CAN bus has become the de facto standard for in-vehicle communication due to its reliability, simplicity, and low cost.

Working Principle

At its core, CAN bus is a two-wire communication system consisting of a twisted pair of wires – CAN_H (CAN High) and CAN_L (CAN Low). These wires are used for both data transmission and power supply. The differential voltage between the two wires determines the logical state of the transmitted bits: if the voltage difference is high, it represents a logical '0', and if it's low, it represents a logical '1'.

CAN bus uses a non-destructive arbitration mechanism to ensure that all nodes on the network have equal access to the bus. When multiple devices want to transmit data simultaneously, they compare the priority of their messages based on their unique node IDs. The device with the highest priority sends its message first, while others wait for their turn. This method ensures collision-free transmission and effectively prevents data loss or corruption.

Data Frames and Messages

In CAN bus, data is transmitted in frames, which consist of two parts: the header and the payload. The header contains important information such as the sender's ID, data length, and priority. The payload carries the actual data being transmitted. Each frame is acknowledged by the receiving device to confirm successful reception.

CAN bus supports two message formats: standard and extended. Standard messages have 11-bit identifiers, allowing up to 2^11 (or 2048) unique IDs. Extended messages, on the other hand, use 29-bit identifiers and can have up to 2^29 (or 536,870,912) unique IDs. This flexibility enables efficient and organized communication between various nodes on the network.

The Advantages of CAN Bus

CAN bus offers several advantages over other communication protocols. Firstly, it provides robustness against electrical noise, thanks to its differential signaling mechanism. Moreover, its prioritization scheme ensures that critical messages are sent immediately, making it ideal for real-time applications. Additionally, CAN bus allows easy integration of new devices without extensive rewiring or configuration changes.

In conclusion, CAN bus is a reliable and efficient communication protocol widely used in various industries. Its working principle, based on twisted pair wiring and non-destructive arbitration, ensures collision-free transmission and reliable data exchange. With its numerous advantages and widespread adoption, CAN bus continues to play a crucial role in modern electronic systems.



Contact: Eason Wang

Phone: +86-13751010017


Add: 1F Junfeng Building, Gongle, Xixiang, Baoan District, Shenzhen, Guangdong, China

Scan the qr codeclose
the qr code