It was used as an industrial communications bus to coordinate slave devices from a master controller. Drop-length was a non-issue as the majority of our devices used an in-rail (DIN mounted) interconnect bus. The larger "drops" were often a under 10" and just jumped one DIN rail to the next DIN rail in the cabinet.
This was selected for the following reasons:
1. These devices were installed in HEAVY EM environments (think in close proximity to very large electric motors) and the electrical characteristics
2. The system topology physically supported multi-drop
3. We had a good deal of talent with CAN experience
4. Our device was already supporting a bunch of wired and wireless protocols (rs422, rs485, ethernet, btle, wifi, etc) and tbh CAN support was a gimme on the SOM we used as the device's core, so initially it made it into consideration by chance
Many (all?) CAN standards transmit on redundant copper, in opposing polarities, making it really easy to identify a signal vs noise. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CAN_bus#/media/File:CAN-Bus-fr...
It's like a one-wire serial signal, but redundant.