Reprogrammable onboard modules have been in automotive use for more than a quarter century. But as electronic controls inhabit virtually every system today, anyone with a late-model vehicle knows that at some point, one or more of its electronic control systems will need to be “reflashed” with new software—often more than once.
In fact, even where the problem may be all-mechanical, including bearing knock, it can be ameliorated by new software for the engine computer.
While some of the reflashes are for customer satisfaction items, such as the air conditioning system that won’t maintain set temperature, an increasing number are safety related. At best, perhaps 70% of the urgent notifications of a safety recall bring the customer into the dealership, and both government and industry are looking for ways to bring it as close to 100% as possible.
With autonomous driving on the horizon, the security and safety aspects create a new urgency for the ability to perform updates on a timeline that doesn’t wait for the leisurely pace of a service appointment at the dealership.
Tesla success with OTA
Tesla’s recent use of over-the-air (OTA)