The term Over-the-air (OTA) updates covers updating remotely both the vehicle’s software (SOTA) and firmware (FOTA). SOTA updates focus on updating higher-level software components, while FOTA updates deal with lower-level, i.e., firmware updates.
For the time being, SOTA updates are still more prevalent. This is largely due to the fact that SOTA updates often involve improving applications and user interfaces, which, as far as updates go, tend to be relatively less complex. SOTA updates can also enhance or unlock new features. FOTA updates, on the other hand, demand a higher level of processing power and memory in the chipset to ensure the updates are carried out reliably and securely.
Reasons To Update
A connected vehicle that does not receive updates or has not been updated for awhile can be a target for malicious actors. Without the updates, the vehicle’s software and systems may have vulnerabilities that attackers could exploit.
Modern high-end connected vehicles use more than 100 million lines of code spread across their electronic control units (ECUs). As the systems using this code get more complicated, it becomes more important to do updates often. Regular updates help to ensure that the software remains secure, runs well, and can support new features. Consequently, it is crucial that the software (and firmware) on the connected vehicle remain up-to-date.
More Convenient Way
In the past, updates to a vehicle’s software or firmware required recalling the affected vehicles to service centres, where manual updates were performed. In fact, it has been the norm until rather recently. However, this approach was very time-consuming, expensive, and overall quite inconvenient. As a result, a significant number of vehicles did not receive critical updates at times because car owners simply ignored them.
Over-the-air updates have changed all of this. Car owners can now update their vehicles from the comfort of their own homes, making the process much more convenient and relatively stress-free. Similarly, car makers can swiftly fix any software-related bugs remotely, eliminating the need for costly recalls and providing consumers with a better-value product.
- Wireless Updates
- Remote Updates