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Software Bug Transportation Upgrades

Why Your Phone Gets OTA Updates But Your Car Doesn't 305

New submitter kjbullis writes with this snippet from Technology Review: "When Toyota recalled over two million cars last week because of flaws with antilock braking systems and other problems, the fix was simple — a few software updates .The implementation of that fix is far from simple. Every one of those cars has to be taken into a dealership to have the new software installed, an expensive process that can take months. Cars that haven't been fixed could, in some cases, suddenly stall and crash. There is an alternative — the same sort of remote software updates used for PCs and smart phones. Indeed, one automaker, Tesla Motors, already provides what it calls 'over-the-air updates,' which allowed it to execute a recent software fix without requiring anybody to bring in their cars. But other automakers are dragging their feet, both because they're worried about security and because they might face resistance from dealers."
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Why Your Phone Gets OTA Updates But Your Car Doesn't

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20, 2014 @05:00PM (#46298593)

    What happens when it loses connection or gets hacked. I rather not have everything in my life constantly connected. Cars have too many computers now that have things go wrong.

  • Tuesday updates (Score:5, Interesting)

    by tomhath ( 637240 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @05:05PM (#46298641)
    I'd rather not have a car manufacturer get into the mindset of assuming problems like that are cheap and easy to fix (so they can scrimp on testing)
  • Re:Umm safety? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tiberus ( 258517 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @05:06PM (#46298657)

    Hmm, but, you have to weigh that risk (and okay, I'm assuming software updates won't occur while the car is moving) against the risk of not updating a vehicle. Yes it's a numbers game and their are vested interests both ways (e.g. I have a vested interest in your car getting a safety update).

  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Thursday February 20, 2014 @05:35PM (#46299003)

    Or better yet, why can't the manufacturer just email everybody a flash drive containing the update which they can then stick in the car's USB port at their leisure? No phone necessary, no possibility of wireless hacking, and the owner can apply the update at a time when it's convenient for them (avoiding the possibility of a bad update stranding somebody in the middle of a road trip or something).

    Sure, the cost is probably higher than OTA updates, but it's lower than dealer updates and it maintains the manufacturers' incentive not to screw up in the first place.

  • Re:Umm safety? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @05:40PM (#46299043) Homepage Journal

    You give the car companies way too much credit.

    They don't give a shit about our safety - that's why it has to be legislated and why they ALWAYS fight safety legislation. Always.

    The updates are done at the dealership so while the software is being updated, you're walking around looking that the new models and it gives the salesperson to harass you.

    It gets you to the dealership to shop.

    When it comes to the intentions of business, cynism is always appropiate.

    Strangely, the dealership/manufacturer model is rather adversarial, with dealerships lobbying (successfully) for control over who sells cars where, locking out the automakers from any attempt at selling directly to customers. The reason dealerships would balk at OTA software fixes is that they get a nice steady stream of revenue from the manufacturer by performing those recall updates. Its easy work: they plug the car in, double click, and collect $100 or more from the manufacturer. Who wouldn't want to run a shop that had guaranteed, easy to complete work that's always paid for on time? Time to lobby to make sure doing it any other way is illegal!

  • Re:Umm safety? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <mojo@wo[ ] ['rld' in gap]> on Thursday February 20, 2014 @06:54PM (#46299805) Homepage Journal

    I develop data loggers that use mobile data networks and it really isn't easy to set this kind of thing up. You need special hardware like automotive grade SIMs that can withstand extreme temperatures. Getting network support isn't either either because no one provider covers all areas, so a roaming SIM or multiple SIMs are needed. There are companies that can provide that capability but it isn't cheap, especially if someone takes a holiday abroad on a network you don't have a deal with.

    I'd be interested to know how Tesla solved all these issues. The fact that their cars are high end helps, as I'm sure it wouldn't be a viable option on cheaper cars.

  • Re:Umm safety? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NicBenjamin ( 2124018 ) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @09:18PM (#46300859)

    Keep in mind that this isn't an application that needs great service. Your data rates do not have to be Netflix via high-speed broadband in every County. They just have to be quicker then driving the car to a dealership and waiting for the service tech to get around to setting shit up. For example, if you simply include an ethernet jack on the dashboard you've got a much better system then the one Toyota's using.

    According to Wired: []
    The Tesla can either use it's own 3G connection, or use your home WiFi.

"The Avis WIZARD decides if you get to drive a car. Your head won't touch the pillow of a Sheraton unless their computer says it's okay." -- Arthur Miller