HERE launches OTA technology for connected and self-driving vehicles


HERE Technologies has introduced a new over-the-air (OTA) solution for automakers to use in connected vehicles. HERE OTA Connect resolves a critical problem: ensuring that data, software and firmware can be transferred between the cloud and a vehicle securely to update and enhance vehicle functions.

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

Because it's designed to integrate into the automaker'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, which could include robotics and drones.

An OTA update is the wireless delivery and installation of new data or software to connected devices. Although OTA technology has been used for years by mobile carriers as a means to update settings and software on phones in their network, the technology's potential for connected and self-driving cars is only now being realised. Just like phones, computers and apps, these cars 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 connected and autonomous vehicles chart new journeys and encounter new scenarios on the road. Automakers also use connected cars as gathering tools; they provide rich sources of data and feed this information to the automaker's central system to improve overall functioning.

HERE OTA Connect is a forerunner in preventing and mitigating the risks associated with unleashing new driving technology on roads and highways. The more connected and automated vehicles become, the more heightened security measures are necessary. HERE OTA Connect provides an essential link in the security chain. Its technology uses Uptane, a security framework backed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security designed specifically for software that runs on connected and autonomous cars. Uptane is the first compromise-resilient security software solution to be discussed at the international level.

"Safety is top of mind," said Armin G. Schmidt, Senior Director OTA at HERE Technologies. "With cars, the stakes are so much higher than mere data breaches. As carmakers develop connected and self-driving systems, they must also design and operate their vehicles to keep out intruders. HERE 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."

As conversations about connected and autonomous cars turn to safety standards and regulations, international law commissions and government bodies are working to make OTA compliance mandatory. The US Department of Transportation, UK Department of Transport 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.

Susan Beardslee, Principal Analyst for ABI Research, states: "Secure and scalable OTA is foundational to the growth of driver assisted and ultimately autonomous cars. As updates move from TCU-based infotainment to ECU-based mission critical operations, there will be a short list of trusted providers including HERE, that will be able to make the leap."

The HERE OTA Connect technology was created by Advanced Telematic Systems (ATS), a Berlin-based software company specialising in automotive products, which HERE acquired in January 2018.

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