A Data Pipeline for Effective Automotive OTA: Five Key Aspects of the eSync System: Page 5 of 5

January 12, 2018 //By Shrikant Acharya, Excelfore
A Data Pipeline for Effective Automotive OTA: Five Key Aspects of the eSync System
Automobiles coming into the market today contain many millions of lines of software. Therefore, regular updates are unavoidable. Given the sensitivity of the automotive environment in technological as well as in societal terms, such updates must be secure. This article describes how the necessary degree of security can be achieved.

Bringing it all Together

Let’s look at an example of how the eSync System works in practice.

  1. On power-up, the update agent for a particular ECU provides its status to the eSync client, including its resources, the version of software it is running, and any diagnostic or error codes from the ECU self-test. The various ECUs in the car, and the head unit, do not necessarily come from the same vendor, but instead can come from any number of vendors offering eSync-compliant devices.
  2. The eSync client brings together all agent information into an up-to-date manifest of every eSync-compliant device in its network. It then reports the manifest to the eSync server in the cloud.
  3. The server has a record of every eSync-compliant end device in every eSync-compliant vehicle in its fleet. The record is never more than one power cycle old, and can be updated at any time through an interrogatory to the vehicle.
  4. When the time comes for an OTA update, for example updating software in a given ECU to version 3, the eSync server has a record of which vehicles have that ECU installed and operational, which ECUs currently have version 2, which are still on version 1, and even if any of the vehicles already have version 3. The eSync server also has information on the processing resources available for that particular ECU in the different sub-models in the fleet, which may have different in-vehicle network configurations. Using Excelfore’s adaptive delta compression engine, the eSync server can create as many different delta files as required to bring the whole fleet up to version 3, minimizing bandwidth, transmission costs, and vehicle downtime.
  5. Using the bi-directional pipeline, the eSync OTA update process ends with each agent reporting its new status. This confirms that there has been no failure in the OTA process, and verifies that the correct version of the software is now installed and that each agent’s ECU reports no errors.

Conclusion

While automotive OTA updates may at first glance appear similar to OTA in smartphones or computers, it is clear there are many challenges to address in order to provide a secure, efficient system that can handle multiple devices in each vehicle, over the many vehicles in a fleet.

The eSync System provides a coherent pipeline from the cloud all the way to the end devices in the vehicle, giving carmakers confidence that their OTA updates can be managed effectively.

About the author:

Shrikant Acharya is Chief Technology Officer of Excelfore Corp. He holds 11 patents in the areas of mobile devices, apps & services, and connectivity. Acharya holds a bachelor’s degree from Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS), Pilani, India, and an MSEE from the University of Texas at Arlington.

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