Today’s vehicles include up to 100 computing units and millions of lines of code. Keeping this digital network updated or installing new functions has most often required a trip to the dealership, until now.
“With more vehicles becoming digitized and drivers being used to a digital lifestyle, it is essential to keep the vehicle software up-to-date at all times and to provide a convenient solution to install updates and new functions,” said Johann Hiebl, head of the Continental business unit Infotainment & Connectivity. “Continental is helping vehicle manufacturers across the globe solve this challenge by developing over-the-air update solutions capable of updating the entire vehicle — from powertrain to infotainment systems.”
To achieve this, Continental is expanding its portfolio towards holistic vehicle connectivity and teaming up with Carnegie Technologies, a leading wireless connectivity solutions provider, to ensure that vehicle manufacturers and drivers can always make use of the fastest, most reliable network connection available to the automobile.
Bridging Connectivity Gaps
Under the agreement, Continental is reselling Carnegie Technologies’ Network Convergence Platform and integrating it into Continental’s Smart Telematics solution for vehicle manufacturers. The solution runs on Continental’s next-generation telematics control unit (TCU) with a supporting cloud-based component for analytics and diagnostics.
As vehicles move along the roadways, this technology provides bandwidth aggregation and gapless handover of calls and data for faster speeds and seamless switching between different networks such as WiFi, LTE, 3G and satellite. These capabilities are essential for new data-intensive applications, including automated driving and over-the-air vehicle updates. In addition to terrestrial networks, Continental is developing over-the-air updates using satellite communication together with the mobile satellite communications company Inmarsat. By using Inmarsat’s global satellite network, Continental enables its customers to remotely update vehicles anywhere in the world, allowing them to easily run global update campaigns without the complexity of dealing with multiple mobile network operators.
“Over-the-air updates are an essential requirement for holistically connected vehicles and smart mobility. To turn wireless updates into a standard for future vehicles, updates need to be fast, seamless and available everywhere. Together, with Inmarsat and Carnegie Technologies, we are now able to fully support our customers and provide the best solutions for drivers around the globe,” said Hiebl.
Smart Software for Seamless Connectivity
Carnegie’s intelligent software solution, which is now part of Continental’s Smart Telematics portfolio, continuously scans and measures available networks and the vehicle’s bandwidth requirements and automatically aggregates the networks to provide the fastest, most reliable and cost-efficient connection. Additionally, it includes VehicleLink, which uses in-vehicle bandwidth or external WiFi when available from devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops to manage data costs and provide the best connection possible.
Carnegie’s Gapless Handover allows Continental’s Smart Telematics solution to deliver continuous data flow. If a cellular connection gets weak, but a WiFi hotspot or smartphone with a different provider is available, it automatically switches the data flow to the most efficient data provider. If the connection is lost temporarily, such as when driving through a tunnel, a call can stay activated in the background until a connection is reestablished, providing session persistence. Vehicle manufacturers can have full control over when and how bandwidth aggregation and gapless handover are configured. They can choose which applications can use the embedded mobile network solution, prevent applications from using unsecured networks or set other parameters and rules. For example, media sync may be limited to the home WiFi connection, passenger tablets can be prevented from using the embedded mobile network, or video conference calls can be set to seamlessly transition between embedded LTE, WiFi or even satellite to avoid interruptions in service.
“As cars become more and more integrated with the Internet, we’re pleased that Continental will be reselling Carnegie’s technology to deliver the reliable, secure and cost-efficient connectivity they need,” said Paul Posner, CEO of Carnegie Technologies. “Through the Smart Telematics platform, automobile manufacturers will now have an end-to-end solution to allow cars and riders to interact with their environment from the road.”
Reliable, Efficient and Cost Effective
Together with Inmarsat, an industry leader in global mobile satellite communications, Continental is able to deliver another important piece to handle over-the-air updates globally through a single network using satellite network communication. The growing number of connected vehicles worldwide is driving an increased frequency of updates that demand a scalable, global solution. Inmarsat operates multiple geostationary satellite constellations that provide a two-way data connection combined with a global broadcast capability to enable rapid, responsive and efficient over-the-air updates to vehicles everywhere. This will allow Continental’s customers to deploy worldwide update campaigns at the push of a button, bypassing the complexity of dealing with multiple mobile network operators. The collaboration between Continental and Inmarsat will also enable vehicles to leverage intelligent routing over satellite and terrestrial wireless (mobile, WiFi) networks to achieve the best quality of service, least cost and highest availability.
Antennas, Telematics Units and Gateways are the Architecture for Holistic Connectivity
The vehicle’s connection to the outside world is provided by a network access device developed by Continental. This can either be integrated into the intelligent antenna module or used as a standalone telematics unit. Gateways are intermediaries between the various network domains in a vehicle and act as communication routers.
They are centrally connected to all vehicle communication buses and have access to all relevant information. As a result, they provide the infrastructure required for over-the-air updates and distribute it to relevant electronic control units. The gateway can also be transformed from a pure information router to a central networking interface if the networking unit is directly integrated into the gateway.