When the next generation of vehicles with Mitsubishi-sourced infotainment systems leaves the auto show and heads to the showroom floor, owners should rest easy knowing that their vehicles can update themselves automatically, no wires, USB drives or dealerships involved.
Today, Mitsubishi Electric -- an automotive infotainment supplier -- announced a partnership with Movimento, an automotive supplier specializing in over-the-air vehicle updates. The pair will create a new architecture called FLEXConnect, which should make infotainment upgrades as simple as, well, standing around and doing nothing while the car takes care of all the legwork.
For now, FLEXConnect will focus primarily on updating the entertainment side of things. For example, if Mitsubishi decides to add some new apps to its suite, the automaker can send those updates out wirelessly, without having to ask customers to return to the dealership or rely on potentially shady USB devices arriving by mail. That said, once Mitsubishi's infotainment systems are set up to receive updates for Facebook and iHeartRadio, the next logical extension would be updates that address software-related recalls. Movimento supplies OTA architecture to companies for that purpose, as well.
Over-the-air (OTA) updating is growing in popularity at a rapid pace, especially in today's post-GM-ignition-cylinder world, where recalls seem to pop up in unprecedented quantities. One of the technology's biggest proponents is Tesla -- in fact, the automaker isto customers right now. Everybody loves saving time, especially when dealership service departments are involved.
OTA is not without its drawbacks, though. Since this technology remains in its nascent stage, both to automakers and suppliers, wirelessly accessing any part of a vehicle -- whether an innocuous app or a safety system -- still raises concern about malcontents gaining the same kind of access. Jeep spent several weeks in the news cycle after a pair of hackers. Granted, the circumstances didn't make for a great spy movie -- months of reverse engineering and fiddling on personal vehicles were required to make the hack work -- but the situation showed that we still have a ways to go before these systems are 100 percent bulletproof.
Analysts at IHS Automotive believe that over-the-air updates will save automakers billions of dollars over the next seven years. That alone should show the inevitability of OTA being implemented across the industry.
Correction, 4:49 p.m. PT: The article and its included picture have been updated to reflect that Mitsubishi refers to Mitsubishi Electric, an automotive infotainment supplier, and not Mitsubishi the automaker.