Over-the-air update is a term that is more in the IT area and is less known in tuning. The vehicle can receive such updates if it is intended for this. This works without a visit to the workshop, but is often associated with additional costs. The updates are simply imported "over the air". Similar to smartphone updates via WLAN or LTE, updates can also be downloaded to a compatible vehicle. Such auto updates ensure that driver assistants learn or headlights become even smarter.
Subsequent updates in the subscription
Countless software programs control many functions in modern vehicles. Manufacturers install appropriate extras that the customer can subsequently activate. This of course costs and, depending on the extra, a subscription can be booked or a function can be activated with a one-time payment. The "updates" are imported "over the air". This business model not only offers advantages for car manufacturers. Used car sellers can also benefit from the subsequent updates and include the various update options for young used cars in the offer.
Autopilot or Personal Assistant
However, the car manufacturers position themselves very differently on the market. Tesla, for example, offers an “over the air” autopilot. The well-known car manufacturer offers a wide variety of functions that are already built into the hardware and can be activated via auto-update. The functions are, for example, in the large infotainment system. A driver assistant known as an "autopilot" can be retrofitted with an update. This is possible thanks to a SIM card built into the new models. The emergency call system has been in place since March 2018 eCall mandatory for newly registered cars. The SIM card required for this is available in the car and can connect to the mobile network. In addition to known updates, such as music streaming services, live traffic and maps for navigation, the driver assistance can also receive an update.
Other car manufacturers, such as BMW and Audi, are following suit and are also offering options for car updates "over the air". BMW recently introduced its Operating System 7.0 and expanded the upgrade options. The Operating System 7.0 was introduced in the latest BMW X5 generation and enables the installation of the "Intelligent personal assistant". Other assistance systems can be equipped with better and new functions via "over-the-air updates". For example, the parking pilot can also park in perpendicular parking spaces and the adaptive cruise control is more dynamic when starting off.
Operating system is crucial for update
Modern vehicles are equipped with electronic control units. For example, BMW is using a new operating system that can be used to access many car control units. Map updates for the navigation system are simply imported online. The modern car is a completely networked system in which all control units communicate with each other. BMW already has that Adaptive cruise control announced with stop-and-go function. This can then be easily activated for a compatible system. The update options are varied and more and more car manufacturers are using the possibilities of modern networking.
There are often additional costs
The prices for auto upgrades are very different and depend on the manufacturer and the functions to be activated. Certain Audi A4 models and the A5 facelift can be used Apple CarPlay, Digital radio, Android Auto as well as retrofitted with a large navigation system. The E-Tron from Audi enables subsequent activation of the Parking assistants. LED headlights can be updated with the matrix function. The activation of functions or the installation of other auto updates "over the air" are often associated with additional costs. For example, Apple Carplay is only offered at BMW for a defined period of time after the new car is purchased. The function usually costs something after one year of use. If you want to use the Carplay function for the life of the car, you have to pay more.
Idea is not completely new
So the manufacturers are starting to build extras in the car that the customer actually did not order at all. Things that he doesn't pay but doesn't use. At least until he lets them unlock. Very conveniently without a visit to the workshop: via update "over the air". Basically, this principle has been around for decades. Even then, small special functions and extras were available in vehicles that were not activated when they were delivered. For example, window regulators that can be opened and closed using the vehicle key. The function was installed in almost every vehicle with an electric window lifter, but it was by no means activated for all of them. The subject of seat heating is very similar. Often, vehicles had already installed the entire technology up to the heating mat in the seat, only the lack of a switch in the center console made it impossible to use. Cruise control is another example. In many vehicles, only the turn signal lever had to be replaced and a fully functional cruise control was already on board. Only the final activation by a contractual partner of the manufacturer was only available on site and not via radio in the garage at home. Unless you had VCDS at home and had some idea.
Of course that had not happened yet!
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