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Ford ushers in era of software upgradable car (video)

Jim Buczkowski, technical fellow and director of Electronic Systems Engineering at Ford, stops by CNET to show how easy it is to update the MyFord Touch system.

Now playing: Watch this: Ford demonstrates DIY MyFord Touch update

Very few people change the performance software on sport cars, but today Ford showed people that upgrading a car's software can be as routine as installing computer updates. The company is shipping owners of its cars with the MyFord Touch infotainment system a USB drive that changes the look and performance of the screens that access navigation, entertainment, climate control, and communications.

CNET got an exclusive look at this update when Ford's Director of Electronic Systems Engineering Jim Buczkowski stopped by to show us how it is done. After plugging in the USB drive, the car's infotainment system automatically began the upgrade process, which took about 45 minutes.

Ford, as an acknowledgment that its first generation of MyFord Touch had a few problems, began shipping the update drives out to registered owners of Ford vehicles with the MyFord Touch system. Owners can either do the update themselves or take the car to their dealer.

The update represents a tectonic shift in car infotainment systems, showing that they can have similar open architecture as a phone or computer, allowing car companies to issue updates that can keep the electronics current well into the lifespan of the vehicle.