IN AUTOMOTIVE FIRST, TESLA PUSHES OVER-THE-AIR SOFTWARE PATCH - Credit - WIRED

IN AUTOMOTIVE FIRST, TESLA PUSHES OVER-THE-AIR SOFTWARE PATCH – Credit – WIRED

As more smart devices are deployed into the world and adopted by users, up to date software within the devices is a continually growing problem than ever before. I believe OTA updates for our ever growing connected world of devices and vehicles is going to be a big problem & opportunity for innovation and improvement. I believe this will be key to long term sustainable growth of this market and these platforms, both from a security and privacy perspective for manufacturers to take responsibility for, as well as to deliver the best user experience for the consumer’s perspective. We need to ensure we can all have the best user experience such as having minimum frustration as well as having quick access to best of what these updates have to offer within our devices from safety to new features and improvements.

Once deemed an unacceptable risk and a daunting technical challenge, remote software fixes have quickly become a top priority for the world’s largest car companies.

With Tesla, the auto maker has designed a fully over-the-air (OTA) update software system that allows improvements to a variety of parts of the vehicle from dashboard to breaking. Tesla uses over-the-air software updates to quickly add new features to its electric cars, or to correct problems without the need for customers to bring their cars to service centers.  Other auto makers do not all have this level of systems integrations for easy updates.

There are a lot of components in a Model S. According to TeslaTap, there are 432 lights, 50 motors/solenoids, 52 processors and a host of other complex machinery in the Model S. Each component is controlled through software and thus paired with a test program.

Tesla cars use GSM 3G or 4G LTE with HSPA+ depending on vehicle production date.  In the USA, Tesla uses the AT&T’s cellular network.  Every Model S supports 3G.  The hardware does not support LTE in early cars. New LTE capable hardware/software is included in all cars manufactured after May 2015.

Though Tesla suffers from a limited 3G OTA update system in older cars and even with LTE options in recent years, Tesla doesn’t allow you to update all parts of your car’s system such as the navigation system due to the cost of bandwidth usage to update maps for example as reported in Tesla Forums.

This problem has been growing for the past couple of years and will continue to grow.  Over-the-air updates have been on varied paths as auto companies scramble to satisfy customers, capture savings.

“Two years ago, ‘over-the-air update’ was like a bad word,” Ned Curic, chief technology officer at Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., said in November at the Connected Car Expo in Los Angeles. Now, he said, the response from executives is: “Yes, we’ve got to do that.”

The lack of an industry wide standard adds complexity for automakers, but for now it’s creating a competitive battleground, with automakers vying to do the best job of satisfying regulators on security and delighting customers with new experiences.

But other manufacturers lack such easy remote access to their vehicles in service. So they’re choosing from several ways to get software updates into cars, including options that loop in the owner’s smartphone.

Interest spiked after Tesla Motors launched the Model S sedan with onboard Wi-Fi and an electronic architecture allowing every line of code to be changed over time — right down to those dictating the behavior of the brakes, steering and suspension.

IN AUTOMOTIVE FIRST, TESLA PUSHES OVER-THE-AIR SOFTWARE PATCH - Credit: Wired

IN AUTOMOTIVE FIRST, TESLA PUSHES OVER-THE-AIR SOFTWARE PATCH – Credit: Wired

Currently, Tesla Software is at 8.1 and features an array of smart features. You can check this out further at Software Updates | Tesla

All Tesla vehicles with Enhanced Autopilot and the latest software update now have improved capabilities, including: Autosteer up to 90 miles per hour, Auto Lane Change, Summon (Beta), Lane Departure Warning and Automatic Emergency Braking. Every driver is responsible for remaining alert and active when using Autopilot, and must be prepared to take action at any time.

Tesla vehicles regularly receives over-the-air software updates that add new features and functionality. When an update is available, you’ll be notified on the center display with an option to install immediately, or schedule the installation for a later time. Connect your vehicle to your home’s Wi-Fi network for the fastest possible download time.

The current software version is 8.1.

All Tesla vehicles with Enhanced Autopilot and the latest software update now have improved capabilities, including: Autosteer up to 90 miles per hour, Auto Lane Change, Summon (Bet

a), Lane Departure Warning and Automatic Emergency Braking. Every driver is responsible for remaining alert and active when using Autopilot, and must be prepared to take action at any time.

Tesla vehicles regularly receives over-the-air software updates that add new features and functionality. When an update is available, you’ll be notified on the center display with an option to install immediately, or schedule the installation for a later time. Connect your vehicle to your home’s Wi-Fi network for the fastest possible download time.

Wired first covered Tesla’s OTA Software Patch updgrades as mentioned in this article : In Automotive First, Tesla Pushes Over-the-Air Software Patch | WIRED

While both Mercedes-Benz and Chrysler have announced plans to perform over-the-air updates to select models next year, Tesla is the first automaker to issue an update using either the embedded 3G data connection in the car or a WiFi signal provided by the driver’s home internet connection.

Model S owners will notice an alarm clock icon at the top of the sedan’s 17-inch touchscreen alerting them of the update, and according to Tesla, the owner can schedule the software modification for a time of their choosing. The Model S has to be parked to perform the upgrade and Tesla says the software push should take around two hours to complete. If the Model S is plugged in, charging will pause until the update is done, and then resume immediately. There is no way for drivers to opt out of the upgrade.

“Some changes may contribute to the safety parameters of the car or make material improvements to the technology,” adds Tesla spokeswoman Shanna Hendriks. “Some changes will provide the driver the option to control/turn off any added new features – such as idle creep.”

Over 100 Model S drivers received the auto industry’s first ever over-the-air operating system update for their new sedans within the next two weeks, Tesla says.

In the future, your automobile will be locked in the same cycle of never-ending software upgrades that holds sway over computers and smartphones. For Tesla Model S owners, the future is now.

 

This article from Ars Technica highlights the challenges why legacy auto manufactures, OEMs and dealers don’t have OTA updates yet while Tesla does : What is the car industry’s problem with over-the-air software updates? | Ars Technica

For Tesla, it’s a case of swings and roundabouts. On the one hand, the company lacks the robust servicing infrastructure that most of its more conventional rivals take for granted; as a result, servicing your Model S or Model X can involve a lengthy delay. (And who knows how things will pan out when Tesla starts churning out Model 3s in volume?)

Love it or hate it, you can’t deny that Tesla has been breathing fresh air into the US car market. By eschewing the traditional way of selling cars in the US—a network of dealerships which the OEM supplies with new cars for a price—it has also been unencumbered by the restrictive regulations that those dealers (and their lobby group NADA), have had written into law.

Boiled down to its essence, OEMs can’t offer existing customers new features for their vehicles without the car dealerships getting their cut. This is in contrast to Tesla, which has done much to highlight the utility of OTA updates.

It’s not a technical issue; companies like Harman and others have the right systems to push out OTA updates to vehicles; the OEMs just aren’t allowed to deploy them.

General Motors has announced plans to offer over-the-air (OTA) software updates “before 2020.” The company’s CEO, Mary Barra, announced the plan on an analyst call on Tuesday. The capability will require the deployment of a new electric vehicle architecture and a new system. OTA updates are high on the tech-savvy car buyer’s wishlist, but here in the US, most new cars are locked out of receiving them thanks to a legal and contractual landscape between the OEMs and their dealer networks that is highly beneficial to the latter.

ABI Research has released an interesting report on OTA updates in 2016 highlighting the state of OTA updates in the auto industry called Automotive Over the Air Updates: Technologies, Applications, and Business Models. 

Developments in connected cars, increasingly sophisticated vehicle electronics and embedded systems all require constant software and firmware updates. Because it is unrealistic to regularly return vehicles to service centers, this has led to a significant development in Automotive Over the Air (OTA) Updates which Vision gain assesses as reaching a value of $1.32bn in 2017. Vision gain’s report on this sector gives a detailed overview of the market, creating an accurate picture that will offer clarity to anyone involved in the automotive software and firmware industry. Importantly, the report also delivers numerous forecasts of the market, giving you an insight into the future opportunities that exist in the Automotive Over the Air (OTA) Updates market.

The last two years have seen record levels of auto recalls and Tesla’s highly publicized Over The Air (OTA) updates. Initially, infotainment and telematics software updates have been deployed by OEMs.  Soon, firmware updates will be possible, which will lead to both increased customer satisfaction and a reduction in the $20B in warranty reserves help by four major US auto makers alone. Auto OEMs are accelerating their rate of development for volume production and re-architecting their platforms to enable more comprehensive OTA features. Passenger safety and security are increasingly critical as the level of vehicle autonomy ramps up. The OEMs will not just materially reduce their costs and risks, but over time will create new revenue streams through services, vehicle features, and personalization. All of this includes the convergence of ADAS, everywhere connectivity, and the changing notion of car ownership.

  • 1. OTA TYPES, TECHNOLOGIES, DEPLOYMENTS, AND RELEVANCE
    • 1.1. OTA Enables the Connected Car
    • 1.2. OTA as a Foundation for Assisted and Autonomous Driving
    • 1.3. Types of OTA
    • 1.4. OTA Technologies
    • 1.5. OTA Hardware
    • 1.6. OTA Deployment and Use Cases
    • 1.7. OTA Relevance and Importance
  • 2. OTA BENEFITS, BARRIERS, AND ECOSYSTEM
    • 2.1. OTA Market Drivers
    • 2.2. OTA Market Barriers
    • 2.3. OTA Business Models
    • 2.4. OTA Industry Relationships
    • 2.5. OTA Ecosystem Dynamics
  • 3. OTA SOFTWARE PLATFORM SYSTEMS
  • 4. OTA PLATFORM FORECASTS

Automotive Over the Air (OTA) Updates submarket forecasts from 2017-2027 By Vehicle Type

• Passenger Cars Forecast 2017-2027

• Hatchback Forecast 2017-2027

• Sedan Forecast 2017-2027

• SUV Forecast 2017-2027

• Heavy Vehicles Forecast 2017-2027

• Defence Vehicles Forecast 2017-2027

• Off-Road Vehicles Forecast 2017-2027

Automotive Over the Air (OTA) Updates submarket forecasts from 2017-2027 By Component

• Controller Forecast 2017-2027

• CarInfo Forecast 2017-2027

• Download Forecast 2017-2027

• Repo Update Forecast 2017-2027

• Others Forecast 2017-2027

Key features

Global Automotive Over the Air (OTA) Updates Market 2017-2027

Automotive Over the Air (OTA) Updates submarket forecasts from 2017-2027 by type

For more background information on OTA updates check out Over-the-air programming – Wikipedia

Over-the-Air programming (OTA) refers to various methods of distributing new software, configuration settings, and even updating encryption keys to devices like cellphones, set-top boxes or secure voice communication equipment (encrypted 2-way radios). One important feature of OTA is that one central location can send an update to all the users, who are unable to refuse, defeat, or alter that update, and that the update applies immediately to everyone on the channel. A user could “refuse” OTA but the “channel manager” could also “kick them off” the channel automatically.

Motes are often located in places that are either remote or difficult to access. As an example, Libelium has implemented a smart and easy-to-use OTA programming system for ZigBee WSN devices. This system enables firmware upgrades without the need of physical access, saving time and money if the nodes must be re-programmed.

More recently, with the new concepts of Wireless Sensor Networks and the Internet of Things, where the networks consist of hundreds or thousands of nodes, OTA is taken to a new direction: for the first time OTA is applied using unlicensed frequency bands (868 MHz, 900 MHz, 2400 MHz) and with low consumption and low data rate transmission using protocols such as 802.15.4 and ZigBee.

As mobile phones accumulate new applications and become more advanced, OTA configuration has become increasingly important as new updates and services come on stream. OTA via SMS optimizes the configuration data updates in SIM cards and handsets and enables the distribution of new software updates to mobile phones or provisioning handsets with the necessary settings with which to access services such as WAP or MMS. OTA messaging provides remote control of mobile phones for service and subscription activation, personalization and programming of a new service for mobile operators and telco third parties.

In the context of the mobile content world these include over-the-air service provisioning (OTASP), over-the-air provisioning (OTAP) or over-the-air parameter administration (OTAPA), or provisioning handsets with the necessary settings with which to access services such as WAP or MMS.

Over-the-Air programming (OTA) refers to various methods of distributing new software, configuration settings, and even updating encryption keys to devices like cellphones, set-top boxes or secure voice communication equipment (encrypted 2-way radios). One important feature of OTA is that one central location can send an update to all the users, who are unable to refuse, defeat, or alter that update, and that the update applies immediately to everyone on the channel. A user could “refuse” OTA but the “channel manager” could also “kick them off” the channel automatically.

Ars Technica also has some information on Harman in the article which could be a solution to the problem for auto industry and connected cars Finally, over-the-air software updates for your car are becoming a reality | Ars Technica

Not all updates are equal, of course; some are going to be critical systems that need to be fixed to satisfy a recall or patch a security hole, whereas others are less important and can be postponed or ignored by owners. The platform gives OEMs a way to deploy those updates, which can be forced out to a fleet, pushed out silently, or pulled in by owners at the time of their choosing. There’s also some fine-grained control that can restrict OTA updates to Wi-Fi (as opposed to LTE) or which require a vehicle to be parked before updating, and so on.

In the video above, Berholtz walks us through the service delivery platform Harman is supplying to OEMs. The platform lets a car maker update any software or firmware on the car, from things deep in the vehicle the user would never see (like engine management software) to revised infotainment systems or map updates.

Cars are no longer the dumb machines they used to be; instead, they’re increasingly becoming the most expensive computers any of us will own. Software controls everything—the throttle, brakes, steering, and infotainment system—and those things are often connected to the Internet thanks to cheap and rugged LTE modems.

LAS VEGAS—A constant bugbear in automotive tech is how inconvenient it is to have to take one’s car to the dealership to get a software update—something Tesla owners often gloat about since their cars don’t suffer that problem. Well, have faith, non-Tesla owners, because it looks like the auto industry is moving in the right direction. To find out more, we spoke to Harman’s Yoram Berholtz at CES.

Harman’s Yoram Berholtz explains how Harman is helping the car industry stay current with over-the-air software updates. Video shot/edited by Nathan Fitch.

NXP's MPC574xG processors are embedded into Harman's OTA gateway solution. Credit - http://www.embedded-computing.com

NXP’s MPC574xG processors are embedded into Harman’s OTA gateway solution. Credit – http://www.embedded-computing.com

Conclusion

As the auto and IoT market evolves and more connected devices exist, there will be more reasons to have more sophisticated and elegant solutions to the OTA update problem to ensure users are having the latest software as well as to ensure more security and privacy for users with patches and fixes for known vulnerabilities.


References

  1. What is the car industry’s problem with over-the-air software updates? | Ars Technica
    https://arstechnica.com/cars/2017/07/gm-to-offer-ota-software-updates-before-2020-but-only-for-a-new-infotainment-platform/
  2. Finally, over-the-air software updates for your car are becoming a reality | Ars Technica
    https://arstechnica.com/cars/2016/01/finally-over-the-air-software-updates-for-your-car-are-becoming-a-reality/
  3. Automotive Over the Air (OTA) Updates Market Report 2017-2027
    https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/automotive-over-the-air-ota-updates-market-report-2017-2027-300549026.html
  4. Automotive Over the Air Updates: Technologies, Applications, and Business Models | ABI Research
    https://www.abiresearch.com/market-research/product/1024253-automotive-over-the-air-updates-technologi/
  5. Over-the-air updates on varied paths
    http://www.autonews.com/article/20160125/OEM06/301259980/over-the-air-updates-on-varied-paths
  6. Continental Automotive – Over-the-air Updates
    https://www.continental-automotive.com/en-gl/Passenger-Cars/Interior/Software-Solutions-and-Services/Over-the-air-Updates-for-multiple-electronic-contr
  7. Over-the-Air Software Updates – YouTube
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNad3kwXeBA
  8. Over-the-air programming – Wikipedia
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Over-the-air_programming
  9. What is OTA update (over-the-air update)? – Definition from WhatIs.com
    https://searchmobilecomputing.techtarget.com/definition/OTA-update-over-the-air-update
  10. Tesla reverses recent limit on lifetime full-speed launches (updated)
    https://www.greencarreports.com/news/1108187_tesla-quietly-limits-lifetime-full-speed-launches-via-over-the-air-update
  11. Undocumented | TeslaTap
    https://teslatap.com/undocumented/
  12. How Does a Tesla Over-the-Air Software Update Work?
    https://www.teslarati.com/tesla-air-software-update-work/
  13. Software 8.1 | Tesla
    https://www.tesla.com/software
  14. Software Updates | Tesla
    https://www.tesla.com/support/software-updates
  15. OTA software updates now serving ECUs for engine, brakes and steering
    http://www.embedded-computing.com/embedded-computing-design/ota-software-updates-now-serving-ecus-for-engine-brakes-and-steering
  16. In Automotive First, Tesla Pushes Over-the-Air Software Patch | WIRED
    https://www.wired.com/2012/09/tesla-over-the-air/

Omar Uddin

Entrepreneur. CEO of UVision

My name is Omar Uddin and I'm Founder & CEO of UVision.

I'm an engineer, inventor, advisor and a serial entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience spanning public & private sectors building smart, scalable & secure technology solutions including web, mobile, cloud, IoT & AI based solutions.

I help startups and enterprise companies with scalability, security and quality issues within their platforms and build intelligent, next generation technology products. I advise high tech startups, businesses, enterprises, government contractors as well as corporations such as Microsoft & Google.

I focus on doing useful things with technology and AI to drive exponential impact for the future of humanity.

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