OTA platform puts an end to the complexity in software updates

OTA platform puts an end to the complexity in software updates

Technology News |
By Christoph Hammerschmidt

Excelfore’s eSync system attacks the OTA problem at several levels: It offers a comprehensive infrastructure layer in the cloud. Operated by the OEMs, this system connects to the cars on one hand and to the various subsystem suppliers, enabling them to feed their software updates into the system. Thus, it offers an orchestrating layer to multiple software source.

“In our eyes, it is a mistake to regard the car as a “thing” in the Internet of Things”, explains Shrikant Acharya, CTO of Excelfore. “The car is different. We regard all these embedded computers in the car, such the various domains like ADAS, body systems or head unit, as separate IoT nodes each.” Each of these domains is divided into different ECUs that share a common gateway, and all domain gateways are connected to the vehicle gateway.

With his concept, Excelfore takes into account another relatively new trend in automotive electronics: Virtual domains, connected through Ethernet backbones. (see figure 1 ). In the vehicles, the eSync system anticipates a small software agent that actually coordinates the various activities of the update process such as software download, decryption and decompression, validation, and finally exchanging the software version and restarting the virtual ECU (an activity that in most cases can only take place when the car is parked and systems are switched off).

Fig. 1: Vehicle domain architecture with connection to OTA server in the cloud

The eSync system is bi-directional and follows a bi-directional security concept. The end-to-end compression, along with a technique to reduce the data to be transferred to the necessary minimum (“delta”) reduces airwave and telecommunication cost.

The server, on the other hand, keeps track of the software assets in the car (including version numbers) and thus knows which parts of the software are affected by an update. In contrast to existing systems, the eSync architecture is scalable, claims Ecxelfore marketing director Mark Singer. This scalability refers to three dimensions: To the number of end devices in the car, since the system can update hundreds of end devices. Then it is scalable in that it can handle a large number of different car models – it updates Ethernet, CAN, LIN, FlexRay and USB devices in an unlimited number of car system configurations, Singer promises. And finally it is scalable with respect to the number of cars – it can be applied to fleets of a few vehicles to hundreds or thousands of cars, Singer says.

Besides offering a product, Excelfore is also calling for standard solutions and procedures for OTA. Towards this end, the Californian software company has initiated a kind of de-facto standard – the eSync Alliance. This is a group of companies that work with the same platform, making it easier to exchange data and mutually dock on OTA processes. Basically, the group includes automotive suppliers at different levels. While currently no carmaker has yet committed to the eSync Alliance, this will happen in the foreseeable future, Acharya announced. Current members include infotainment system provider Alpine and tier one supplier Molex.

Related aticles:

Sierra Wireless and Movimento unite on OTA vehicle software management

Continental enables OEMs to update car software over the air

Intel grabs OTA platform vendor Arynga

ST, Airbiquity demo automotive wireless software update

Adoption of automotive software OTA updates to accelerate


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