End to End view of OTA for Connected Vehicles

Background – What is OTA for connected vehicle
Over-the-Air (OTA) software updates for connected vehicles became increasingly necessary with advanced electronics, control units & technology embedded in the vehicles which need firmware(s) & software to function.

OTA updates enable automobile manufacturers to push software packages remotely through the wireless connection. Wireless connection can be through Communication Modules (DCMs) or Local Wi-Fi connections. The software packages for connected vehicles are developed and pushed for new features and bug fixes similar to smartphones and other electronic devices.

The possibility to update software in the vehicles saves vehicle manufacturers and regional dealers from arrangements of customer visit, and provide manual technical assistance and related time & manpower load.


The necessity of OTA – Debriefed objective points
Connected vehicles are loaded with heavy and complex software packages for connected services, vehicle controls, sensors, vehicle and driver safety features, autonomous driving, and much more.

It is crucial and obligatory for vehicle manufacturers and OEMs to keep in-vehicle software packs and operating systems bug-free and up-to-date with enhanced and new features.

This demand for frequent and swift software updates pushes manufacturers and OEMs to adapt to OTA mechanisms with the below listed key necessities and/or benefits.

  1. Drawbacks of time-consuming manual software updates, customer-to-dealer visits, and wired set-ups
  2. Automated OTA updates can deliver software/firmware fixes and enhancements remotely, swiftly improving vehicle functionality, safety, and security in no time.
  3. The fast-paced evolution of connected vehicles and services pushing heavy demand on the OTA

In the ever-evolving world of connected vehicles and their features, OTA software updates are inevitable for manufacturers to be swift and efficient to deliver software updates, improve vehicle performance, and enhance overall customer delight.

E2E – Systems and Business Functions
Enablement of OTA for connected vehicles involves cross-functional system domains and/or functional capabilities listed below.

  1. Data Collection and Data Analysis of versions and status of in-vehicle software(s)
  2. Regulation Compliance and Management UNECE-WP-29 for cybersecurity and software updates, And UNECE-R156 & R155 for component-specific functionalities
  3. Legal Compliance to GDPR and Customer Consent Management
  4. Fully automated Campaign Configuration and E2E OTA Rollout Management
  5. Notification Management to keep customers informed about software updates, and collect consent
  6. Product Management, Research, and SDLC of the Software Package(s)
  7. Data Analytics and Reporting to judge the success rate of the OTA rollouts
  8. Customer management for failed OTA to coordinate with the customer for wired updates
  9. Bench set-up with CAN-bus for wired updates


Typical-E2E-System-Domains-Functions-and-Workflow-for-Vehicle-OTATechnical capabilities


  1. Telematics – To collect vehicle data and send signals to change the configuration of the vehicle
  2. Cellular Network – Telematics data is transmitted over a cellular network, such as 3G, 4G LTE, or 5G.
  3. Firmware Over-the-Air (FOTA) – FOTA technology enables the wireless transfer, installation, and rollbacks
  4. Differential (Delta) Updates enable installation of just a changed part of the software, not the whole package
  5. Secure Communication, E2E encryption, digital signatures & certificates, and authentication to protect the OTA update from unauthorized access and tampering.
  6. Remote Software Management Platforms (Campaign Consoles) to create and package software updates, and schedule deployments in batches to get status and performance.
  7. Remote Device Management and Monitoring for remote provisioning, resets, and restarts

Along with the Technical Capabilities the technical protocols used for OTA are

  1. Open Mobile Alliance (OMA) and Device Management (OMA-DM)
  2. MQTT (Message Queuing Telemetry Transport)
  3. HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure)
  4. CoAP (Constrained Application Protocol)
  5. SOTA (Software Over-The-Air) protocols

Current Challenges and Limitations
Although OTA for vehicles is in practice for more than two decades; the challenges and limitations are also growing alongside the complexity of the connected services and demanding customer experience and regulations.

Some of the prominent challenges are explained below.

  1. Technical Regulatory Compliance and GDPR becoming more complex day by day
  2. Transforming existing ecosystems for OTA capabilities
  3. Region/Countries with low network coverage, low bandwidth, and unstable connectivity
  4. Cyber Security (Communication Channel Security and Data Security)
  5. Standardization of OTA Technical Capabilities and Protocols across all OEMs
  6. Customer Experience with prolonged update process and
  7. To mitigate these challenges; the need for strong cohesive cooperation and collaborative research is inevitable among automakers, equipment suppliers, technology providers, standards (ISO), network operators, and regulatory organizations

Author Details

Sanjog Saraf

Lead Product Owner 1) 22 years of experience in E2E Business Capabilities across Telecom and Automobile 2) Diversified experience with International clients (Toyota Motors Europe, BT UK, KPN NL, Ziggo NL, Orange-Belgium, Proximus-Belgium, Liberty Global, Unity Media-Germany) 3) Currently working as a Product Owner on 15+ Connected Car and Mobility Products and Features for Toyota Motors Europe 4) Formerly, Product Owner and Requirement Owner for Unity Media Germany 5) Worked as Lead Analyst for Proximus Belgium 6) Proven Leader in Product Rollouts, Business Transformations, Systems & Process Transformations 7) Acquainted Practitioner of Agile Scrum and SAFE5.0 Product Ownership. Certified Enterprise Architect, TOGAF-9.1 of The Open Group, Practicing AWS Cloud Implementations


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