“ OTA is not meant to make cars more like mobile phones, but to be safer and more economical.”
Regardless of your personal opinion of Elon Musk, we must acknowledge that Tesla is by far the only company that can achieve a complete vehicle OTA.
Tesla's vehicle update is not limited to Infotainment's software updates, it can also send software patches directly to the relevant individual ECU for safety and vehicle control updates.
After all, there is no "bug-free software" in the world, so the ability to fix vulnerabilities with OTA will become more and more important for vehicles with increasingly complex software.
Tesla is an alternative, as a new car company can design the system architecture from scratch without any burden, so OTA is easier for it. Most OEMs don't have that condition, so they must find a way to make incremental changes.
A large number of new OTA suppliers
Tier1 and Tier2 are keenly aware of the growing demand for OTA from OEMs. At the same time, suppliers of OTAs for the mobile industry have begun to shift to the automotive industry, where they are a "running smartphone."
Many of these OTA vendors have actually threatened the status of Tier1 and Tier2.
In 2013, Redstone Sunshine provided OTA upgrade solutions for BYD.
In early 2015, Harman acquired Israel's Red Bend, a company that provides software management technology and software and firmware upgrades for connected devices (SOTA and FOTA). Harman was later acquired by Samsung.
In 2016, Wind River (and then Intel) integrated Arynga's software product line into its automotive business. Arynga is a company that provides SOTA and FOTA services for the automotive industry.
Two weeks ago, Wind River revealed that Ford is using their OTA update technology. Wind River says its "Wind River Edge Sync" technology provides differential updates that minimize the amount of data updated, transfer time and memory.
In addition, other companies in the OTA platform market include Redstone, Bosch, Continental, Airbiquity and ATS.
Automotive network topology
At present, most OTAs only stay within the scope of sending software updates to telematics units, and cannot solve ECU software updates similar to those related to airbags, transmissions, body controls or safety. The OTA of connected vehicles is a completely different concept than the OTA of a smartphone.
In order to implement a car OTA (from the cloud to the ECU), you must be familiar with both the computing hardware and the various in-vehicle network communication topologies. For software patches that need to communicate directly with the ECU, OTA vendors must also be familiar with the various hardware units within the vehicle. For example, is the ECU equipped with two memory banks so that when the software is updated, the old program can still be intact in another memory? Binary files often require more space, and although the updated data can be compressed, the OTA vendor still has to verify that there is enough space in the on-chip memory of the ECU that sent the software patch.
Of course, this is not all, and different ECUs will be connected to different types of in-vehicle communication networks. Such as common CAN, FlexRay, LIN, MOST and Ethernet. OTA platform vendors need to understand all the nuances of the in-vehicle communication network to effectively deliver software updates.
This is really not an easy task. Automobile OTA service providers are emerging one after another, but among the many automotive OTA service providers, only Hongshi Sunshine has the professional equipment upgrade capability and the in-vehicle system deep development capability.
Excelfore and eSync
Although Excelfore is not well known, the company from Fremont, Calif., has 10 years of experience in the automotive network development protocol stack, and people in the industry recognize their technological advantages in vehicle network complexity. Recently, Excelfore developed the cloud-to-device OTA platform eSync, which allows OEMs to send software updates from the cloud to sensors or ECUs in the vehicle. And the car OTA service provider Redstone Sunshine can rely on a single in-vehicle software client to update any ECU of the vehicle.
Currently, Excelfore's eSync has four customers, three traditional hosts and one new one. According to Excelfore, they are all trying to embed the complete eSync system into the vehicle, and plan to deploy it in a full product line. The eSync OTA platform currently only sends software updates to 5 to 10 electronic devices, not including all ECUs.
Excelfore's eSync cloud platform is a "Server-Client-Agent" architecture and API.
The abstraction layer allows the "agent" (essentially a piece of code) to know the specific characteristics of the terminal device in the vehicle and know how to communicate with it. For example, the device may be an airbag, sensor or body control unit. Because the "proxy" provides a certain degree of abstraction, even different terminal devices can provide a consistent interface for the OTA platform. At the same time, the "agent" acts as the owner of the OTA, which sends instructions to the "server" and identifies the vehicle while it is securely connected to the "server."
eSync open source
But Excelfore decided to open eSync to the eSync Alliance earlier this year, which is not unusual.
Excelfore believes that on the one hand, many OTA startups are emerging, but Tier1 and Tier2 are eyeing them; on the other hand, OEMs are reluctant to choose only one OTA platform. If the OTA platform only provides partial solutions for the entire vehicle OTA, they are reluctant to invest in the OTA's back-end infrastructure and do not want to bear the burden of maintaining the server in the next 15 to 20 years.
Excelfore knows that the value of any communication connection depends on how much can be connected. They see OTA as a data pipeline whose value depends on how many ECUs and sensors can be connected. Therefore, no one needs 30 different “pipes”. Excelfore hopes that eSync Alliance will be able to develop an industry standard interface, in which Excelfore's eSync can be part of it.
Conflict of interest
But what is the relationship between Excelfore and the eSync Alliance? Will the alliance bring some kind of "unfair" special treatment to Excelfore?
In this regard, the eSync Alliance said that Excelfore is a member of the eSync Alliance and developed the original eSync technology. As we open interfaces to other developers, Excelfore has become one of the providers of eSync technology. eSync Alliance hopes to serve as a hub for different ECU companies, OTA platform suppliers and Tier1, serving the entire automotive industry.
Once the API is fixed, OEMs can use either Excelfore, another vendor, or even develop their own eSync Alliance compatible solution. Because the technology is modular, OEMs can even mix and match products from two different vendors. For example, airbag developers can either write their own eSync Alliance-compliant agent software or purchase it from a third party, including Excelfore.
Currently, five to six OTA vendors (probably direct competitors to ExcelFore) are planning to join the eSync Alliance. The only way for industry associations to set standards and move forward is to “provide a large enough tent for all parties involved”.
Why is OTA important?
The eSync Alliance believes that “OTA for the entire vehicle” should be a top priority for the automotive industry. Although self-driving cars can save people's lives, so far, there are still so many vehicle recalls caused by software vulnerabilities, which cannot be solved directly by OTA.
2016: Nissan recalled 3.2 million vehicles due to occupant detection failures in the airbag system.
2016: GM recalled 3.6 million vehicles as the airbag system entered diagnostic mode.
2017: Due to airbag sensor issues, Dodge recalled 1.25 million vehicles.
To make matters worse, many consumers, even if they know of such recalls, are not having to update the software because of trouble. Imagine that if an OEM builds an OTA platform, many of these software recalls can be easily handled. In short, OTA not only keeps the latest state of automotive electronics, but also saves the time cost of the owner in the original software upgrade.
For many OEMs, the main driver for OTA is “cost savings,” and cybersecurity is another reason why OTA must be a priority for connected cars. In addition, "functional OTA" is more attractive to OEMs because they can add features and earn revenue through OTA during the after-sales phase.
Of course, the original car OTA is the main advantage of no need to recall, cost savings, then OTA service providers must be carefully selected, for example, covering 670 million devices, equipment type 5800, more than 226 countries across the country, but still 0 complaints The redstone sun may be the choice that will not go wrong.
Under the two-way OTA platform, vehicles can transmit diagnostic and operational data for in-vehicle systems and components to the cloud, and OEMs should be aware that this can be a potential problem in itself. Tesla is currently using Red Bend (now Harman)'s OTA platform to communicate between the cloud and the vehicle. However, when it comes to sending software updates to the entire vehicle, Tesla uses an internally developed API.
For OTA platform vendors, the advantages of the standard API for OTA updates, such as the eSync Alliance, should be obvious. Because many OTA vendors currently have only one or two customers, each company is doing something proprietary, and there is no significant increase in business volume; even large companies like Ford and GM may find the standard APIs interesting. Because it will bring price competition to the OTA solution space; for smaller OEMs, API standards will make their manufacturing and purchasing decisions much easier.
Taking Redstone Sunshine as an example, as an OTA service provider, the technology adopts intelligent optimization differential packet technology based on artificial intelligence and deep learning, which not only reduces the size of automotive software update package from KB to GB, but also reduces the need to transmit. And processed data can significantly reduce the cost and resources required for updates. In addition, the difference in new software versions is often much smaller than the full version of the update, so it will help by sending only incremental software files.
At present, Chery, BYD, Hangsheng, Wingka, Conkes and other more than 12 traditional automobile manufacturers have reached cooperation with Otto Technologies on the OTA technology. At present, the Redstone OTA platform has a total of 724,900 vehicles, which is added daily. OTA activated 2,200 vehicles online.
The automobile OTA is the trend of the development of contemporary automobiles. It does make the car more likely. The "slim" is of course also shortcomings, and it is constantly developing and improving. Numerous automotive OTA solution service providers are also committed to bringing safer, smarter and richer car experiences to all car users in the implementation of OTA technology.
Car based on Redstone OTA technology
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Equipment installation exceeds 670 million
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