Over the air updates to slash car recall rates
With between 60 and 70 per cent of vehicle recalls in North America and Europe due to software glitches, research suggests that over the air (OTA) software updates to wireless-capable cars could be a game changer for the automotive industry.
A study released by Frost & Sullivan found that mass market cars have at least 20 million to 30 million lines of software code, while premium cars could have as much as 100 million lines controlling essential systems. At an average cost of $ 10 per line, these electronic systems do not come cheap and recalls not only leave a dent on manufacturers’ reputations, but also lead to multi-billion dollar losses.
The situation could get worse as Frost & Sullivan predicts that the value of software in vehicles is set to increase as much as 50 per cent by 2020, which makes it imperative for OEMs to manage the software efficiently over the lifecycle of the vehicle and reduce the impact of product recalls.
Frost found that automotive vendors are increasingly taking to wireless technologies such as over the air (OTA) updates. Audi recently started providing features such as parking and gas prices using OTA updates on its Audi connect solution, while GM has been offering OTA updates to its Bluetooth platform using the OnStar embedded connectivity platform. Both Tesla and Chrysler provide firmware OTA (FOTA) through an embedded 3G data connection in the car or a wifi router and other car makers that offer this technology include Toyota, Mercedes Benz and BMW.
According to Frost, OTA is a potential game changer with its ability to fix bugs and enhance features without requiring a physical connection to the vehicle. Once OEMs upgrade to this infrastructure, they are likely to experience a rapid and dramatic improvement in vehicle performance and customer satisfaction, and a steep dip in costs.
“With connected vehicles on the road, real-time data probing and collection techniques, software OTA (SOTA) and FOTA are not limited to the infotainment space,” said Frost & Sullivan Automotive and Transportation industry analyst, Krishna Jayaraman.
Redbend and Vector recently announced an OTA solution that can be used to update the software on the engine control unit’s flash drive. This will enable OEMs to directly interface with the vehicle and send out updates in cases of software hitches. Another popular solution is Symphony Teleca’s Insight Connect Vehicle Relationship Management, which is an end-to-end supervising solution that serves as a cost-effective, one-stop shop for all vehicle-related services ranging from diagnostics and infotainment platform, to software maintenance, Frost said in its report.