Here launches secure over-the-air software updating system for CAVs

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Location and navigation services provider Here Technologies has launched a new over-the-air (OTA) system that allows data, software and firmware to be securely transferred between the cloud and a connected vehicle to update and enhance its functions.

Although OTA technology has been used for many years by mobile carriers to update settings and software on phones in their network, the technology’s potential for connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs) is only now being realized. Just like phones, computers and apps, CAVs have code that requires frequent updates, but the complexity of their systems and safety requirements make perfecting updates much harder.

A significant amount of software, including millions of lines of code, will be required as CAVs chart new journeys and encounter new scenarios on the road. Auto makers will also use CAVs as data gathering tools, with this information fed to a central system to improve the overall functionality of other vehicles.

The new OTA Connect technology was created by Advanced Telematic Systems (ATS), a Berlin-based software company specializing in automotive products, which Here acquired in January 2018. Because it is designed to integrate into any auto maker’s backend and uses open-source technology, OTA Connect can be offered to automotive customers globally and avoids lock-in to specific vendors. Currently available as a standalone product, Here plans to combine OTA Connect with its suite of automotive software and services in the coming months, and make the technology available for non-automotive applications, such as robotics and drones.

The more connected and automated vehicles become, the more heightened security measures are necessary, so Here’s OTA Connect system has been developed to provide an essential link in the security chain. Its technology uses Uptane, a security framework backed by the US Department of Homeland Security that was designed specifically for software that runs on CAVs.

Uptane is the first compromise-resilient security software system to be discussed at an international level. As conversations about CAVs turn to safety standards and regulations, international law commissions and government bodies are working to make OTA compliance mandatory. The US Department of Transportation (USDOT), UK Department for Transport (DfT) and the German BMVI are working on national-level legislation involving OTA updates. On a global level, the UN Task Force (UNECE WP29) is expected to issue a recommendation in mid-2018, with a resolution expected in 2019.

“OTA technology is the next big advancement in keeping vehicles safe and up-to-date with less cost to both auto makers and car owners,” said Ralf Herrtwich, SVP of automotive at Here Technologies. “Our OTA Connect provides cost- and time-saving benefits by enabling auto makers to update vehicles remotely, such as in large recall campaigns. It also opens up revenue streams for auto makers by giving their customers the ability to purchase new vehicle upgrades and features at the touch of a button.”

Armin G Schmidt, senior director of OTA at Here, added, “Safety is top of mind. With cars, the stakes are so much higher than mere data breaches. As car makers develop connected and self-driving systems, they must also design and operate their vehicles to keep out intruders. OTA Connect not only provides a highly secure framework against hacker hijacking, but it speeds up the process of getting important safety updates out in a cost-effective and scalable manner.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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