Car Tech 101: Everything you need to know about OTA updates
Cooley On Cars
OTA stands for over the air.
The idea of sending software over the air, in this case to update your car.
It already happens to the OS in your phone.
More and more of them, and more and more cars affected by them.
Are due to software according to JD Power.
Now with nary a to wrench to be turned an OTA serviced recall means no dealer visit.
Features, keeping your car better as it ages and depreciating a little less.
Adding value to a car after the sale.
What a radical idea.
And Tesla has even taken it further.
Charging for features and functions added after the sale.
Don't think that car companies aren't paying attention and thinking about the different business model opportunities.
Compliance & Security.
As vehicle rules change, or as hacks become known, cars could be hardened against them easily.
This is something that needs to be in place today.
Cars will not be secure until there is a in-place, over-the-air software update capability.
Savings, time for you, not having to schedule a dealer visit, and money for the car maker.
IHS Automotive says by 2022 160 million cars around the world will have OTA update ability saving car makers 35 billion dollars on easier map, infotainment, and safety updates.
There are two main sandboxes of OTA.
There's infotainment, where you refresh things like map updates, streaming services, important, but not mission critical.
Then there's drive control updates.
These are things that affect the car's ability to move down the road.
And they are critical.
Tesla has added self-driving features, via OTA.
GM says it will never make drive updates via OTA.
It's an area in need of regulatory standards, to say the least.
All late model cars are full of ECU's or electronic control units that run everything from your engine to your sunroof.
But to make them updatable over the air, a car needs a little more tech.
First, a TCU.
THat can stand for telematics control unit or transmission control unit, not the geared type.
It's the main device that oversees anything OTA, and the devices that get updated by it.
And there should always be an onboard fallback Fallback, so if the update goes wrong the car doesn't get bricked.
Lexus pushed out an update in June of 2016 that bricked a bunch of cars' head unit.
And to detect the problems after it arrives and whether it was properly installed because you may have to do a rollback.
So it's very complicated.
It's a nightmare.
Safety should be [UNKNOWN] Center, first and foremost, however I think it's going to be some baby steps so maybe over the air map updating perhaps, incremental map updates, things of that nature.
Maybe adding some apps or apps support for smart phone connections.
Things such as this is a very strong case to be made for car companies paying attention to ad usage with their smartphone connectivity platforms and making adjustments in their user interfaces if they need to, or deleting apps that nobody's using.
Now, hurdles for doing OTA are several.
First of all, what to do with it?
Car makers know different owners would value different updates.
They can't do them all, they have to know which ones are gonna hit pay dirt.
Cost, the data your car throws off is gold to car makers.
They should pay you for it says [UNKNOWN], yet some car makers.
Frequently charge a fee for the wireless download that powers their OTA updates.
Standards and common platforms, those are needed especially when the updates relate to the drive system.
And the presence of wireless connections, the vast majority of cars on the road today, Don't have one and may never.
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