Bosch has announced that it has developed all the features required to carry out wireless, over-the-air (OTA) updates for cars of the future. These OTA updates range from control units and in-car communication infrastructure, to modern encryption technologies and the Bosch IoT cloud, the company said. This will lead to owners being able to enhance their vehicle’s security, intelligence, and performance from the comfort of their home or work. Bosch noted that updating the vehicle software will become as simple as updating apps on smartphones at present.
More vehicles are now connected – with the internet, other cars, and the infrastructure, meaning a greater risk of weak links in vehicle software, as well as of manipulation. In this context, software updates over the cloud offer a solution that keeps cars constantly up to date, and thus also secure, the company explained. Cloud updates also mean that ever more functions can be added, with ever greater scope. Bosch said that OTA software updates are not beneficial to just drivers, but are also of advantage to car manufacturers. It noted that in 2015, 15 % of recalls in the automotive industry in the US had to do with software errors, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Association.
The OTA software updates are directly from the cloud, making them secure, fast, and simple, observed Bosch. The online security updates are started on the driver’s smartphone or the car’s infotainment system, and any new functions that need to be downloaded are selected. This information is sent to the cloud, which acts like a kind of app store, holding the updates in readiness and starting the process of downloading software to the vehicle, Bosch explained. The data can either be downloaded in the background while the car is moving, or overnight when it is parked in its garage. It added that once the vehicle is in a secure condition, the software updates are installed on the appropriate control units, where they are immediately activated.
The company ensures data security by the use of latest encryption technologies developed at the Bosch subsidiary Escrypt. A complex security architecture with end-to-end encryption protects the data transmission against unauthorised access, with secure protocols and filters acting like a firewall to ward off any hacking attempts at the car-cloud interfaces. Bosch also uses fast update technologies such as delta and compression mechanisms to ensure that OTA software updates are not just secure, but also fast and reliable. These accelerate the update process and reduce cost, since the data volume for the transmission remains low. Bosch noted that another security measure is to transmit the updates in sequences. If problems occur, the update process can be stopped and adjusted.
Dr Markus Heyn, Member, Board of Management, Bosch, said that in a few years from now, automatic software updates will be possible in every new car. Wireless OTA updates are extremely convenient for drivers, and in addition, Bosch is making these online updates secure and fast, he added. Dr Heyn noted that cars are driven for 15 years or more, and OTA software updates are Bosch’s contribution to keeping vehicle software constantly up to date, without having to visit the workshop. He also said that for automakers and their customers alike, such workshop visits for updating software errors are a huge waste of time and money, and online updates can significantly reduce this.