Car manufacturers soon hope to upgrade vehicles' software over-the-air (OTA), which they say will enhance customer satisfaction, boost safety, and curb costs.
The U.S. Institute for Highway Safety predicts within three to five years, most, if not all, automakers will offer OTA-enabled platforms that encompass every vehicle system--infotainment, safety, comfort, and powertrain.
A Tesla Motors spokesperson says the company already offers OTA upgrades for one of its models, and these upgrades "are matched to a [vehicle identification number] to ensure the car has the required hardware to receive all relevant updates." All of the car's electronic control units (ECUs) can be centrally accessed as part of the vehicle's telematics system.
However, most vehicles have hard firewalls between ECUs that serve navigation systems, entertainment units, and powertrains. Even the most widely adopted high-speed transport specification in newer cars-- Media Oriented Systems Transport--contains several disparate protocols depending on which automaker has deployed it.
Manufacturers are looking closely at the Ethernet networking standard as a more secure protocol that also offers security. By 2020, many cars will have 50 to 60 Ethernet ports, and even entry-level vehicles will have at least 10, according to a Frost & Sullivan study.
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