GM Says its Vehicle Lineup Will Be Capable of Receiving OTA Updates Beginning in 2023

GM Says its Vehicle Lineup Will Be Capable of Receiving OTA Updates Beginning in 2023

Author: Eric Walz   

Following the footsteps of electric automaker Tesla, General Motors said on Monday that all of its future models will be able to receive over-the-air updates by 2023.

GM President Mark Reuss said the new platform is necessary for its next-generation of vehicles, especially those models equipped with electric powertrains, active safety systems, internet connected infotainment systems, as well as the company's semi-autonomous driver assistance system "Super Cruise."

To support the updates, GM is working on new vehicle electrical architectures designed to securely handle a much larger volume of data traffic and software downloads from the internet. GM said its new vehicle architecture will be capable of managing up to 4.5 terabytes of data processing power per hour, which is five times faster that GM's current electrical architecture and a typical volume of data generated by a self-driving car.

The new architecture also provides more rapid communications within the vehicle itself, supporting Ethernet connections of 100Mbs, 1 Gbps and 10 Gbps.

The system enables functionality upgrades throughout the lifespan of the vehicle.

"The critical role of software and its importance to our vehicles, both now and for years to come, cannot be overstated," said Reuss. "Our new digital vehicle platform and its eventual successors will underpin all our future innovations across a wide range of technological advancements, including EVs and expanded automated driving."

GM executives have said in the past that matching Tesla's use of over-the-air updates would require new vehicle electrical systems, and robust cybersecurity to assure that vehicles could not be tampered with by hackers.

Tesla was the first automaker to use smartphone-style over-the-air updates to add new features and functionality to its models. The OTA updates have been used by Tesla in the past to push critical software updates, like the automaker did earlier this month.

In response to high-profile media reports about its vehicles batteries catching on fire, Tesla pushed out an over-the-air update for its battery thermal management software this month. Tesla did not reveal details about the update, but presumably it was designed to improve the cooling of the battery pack.

GM did not specify what vehicle systems and features would be open to over-the-air updates, but said the new system "enables the adoption of functionality upgrades throughout the lifespan of the vehicle." Certain critical safety systems will be excluded from OTA updates.

In 2016, Reuss, who was the automaker's head of global product development at the time, said the company would not use over-the-air updates for safety-critical systems, such as the brakes.

GM rival Ford Motor Co first offered "over-the-air" software updates in 2017, when it adding Android Auto and Apple CarPlay to its 2016 vehicles equipped with Sync-3 via a wireless software update.

GM's New Architecture Will Offer Improved Vehicle Security

Cybersecurity is another key component of the new architecture, according to GM. The vehicle architecture includes additional protective features at the hardware and software levels to prevent against vehicle hacking.

GM was among the first automakers to create an integrated and dedicated global Product Cybersecurity organization, a team of experts within the company focused on protecting against unauthorized access to vehicles and personal customer data.

The electronic platform was developed at GM facilities across the world by a team of electrical, hardware and software engineers.

The new GM electrical systems will be launched on the 2020 Cadillac CT5 sedan, due to begin production later this year. GM said it should be rolled out to most vehicles within GM's global lineup by 2023.

Eric Walz
Eric Walz
Originally hailing from New Jersey, Eric is a automotive & technology reporter covering the high-tech industry here in Silicon Valley. He has over 15 years of automotive experience and a bachelors degree in computer science. These skills, combined with technical writing and news reporting, allows him to fully understand and identify new and innovative technologies in the auto industry and beyond. He has worked at Uber on self-driving cars and as a technical writer, helping people to understand and work with technology.
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