Connected VehicleCybersecurity

In the connected world, cybersecurity is more important than ever

Kamyar Moinzadeh, CEO of Airbiquity, in discussion with Telematics Wire, talks about general acceptance of OTA by automakers and industry at large, the cybersecurity threats, impact of COVID on the auto industry, and more. Below are the views shared by Kamyar Moinzadeh-

When did Airbiquity start working on OTAmatic and what motivated its development?

We debuted OTAmatic®, an industry leading, multi-ECU over-the-air (OTA) solution that securely orchestrates and automates software update and data management campaigns, in 2017. After 15+ years of experience working in the automotive telematics space, and knowing software would be increasingly embedded into connected vehicles to power new features and services, we saw a future automaker priority for updating software and managing data collection remotely. It was clear to us that OTA capabilities would be crucial to efficiently manage software and data across the entire lifecycle of connected vehicles, improve consumer driving experiences, and continue the evolution of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), vehicle to everything (V2X) communications, and autonomous driving features. This led us to work closely with automakers to understand their emerging OTA requirements and build the OTAmatic product to meet them.

Since 2017 automakers have universally come to understand the importance of having an OTA platform to service and support their product offerings. Typically, automakers are deploying OTA software update management capabilities first, followed by OTA data management capabilities. We designed and built OTAmatic to provide both software update and data management capabilities from the start so our customers can use one system to accomplish both tasks.

OTAmatic has been well received and thoroughly vetted by multiple leading automakers. We don’t talk about customer programs that are in development, but we have made many announcements that illustrate OTAmatic market momentum. In 2019 Airbiquity received a strategic investment from Toyota Motor Corporation, DENSO Corporation, and Toyota Tsusho Corporation and formed a partnership with YESWAY to bring the product to Chinese automakers. And for multiple years we’ve been working with other leading companies including NXP, STMicroelectronics, Renesas, Arity, SafeRide, Teraki, and Wind River to pre-integrate technology to enhance OTAmatic and speed customer evaluation and deployment.

The automotive industry is in transition and services like OTAmatic could be the default software update tool. Do you see cybersecurity threats disrupting it?

In our ever-connected world, cybersecurity is more important than ever. In order to mitigate cybersecurity threats associated with OTA systems, automakers must ensure that their technology suppliers have a robust security framework built into their offerings. Airbiquity understands how important security is not only to automakers but also consumers. Automotive software recalls, software hacking and intrusions, and data privacy breaches can be detrimental to both brand and customer loyalty—not to mention scary for drivers. That’s why OTAmatic uses heavily vetted and widely adopted standards-based security technologies throughout. OTAmatic also features Uptane which is a comprehensive security framework specifically designed for automotive electronics. We believe Uptane is the current gold standard for automotive OTA security mitigation.

Does Airbiquity also work closely with automotive cybersecurity companies? 

We have worked with SafeRide Technologies to integrate SafeRide’s vSentry™ multi-layer cybersecurity solution with the OTAmatic platform, as well as the Uptane security framework as previously highlighted.

How does OTAmatic benefit automakers and consumers?

OTAmatic provides many benefits to automakers and consumers:

  • Update defective or down-level vehicle software remotely eliminating the need for consumers to take the time, expense, and inconvenience of going to dealerships for software related services
  • Lessen the time and expense requirements for automakers to complete software related vehicle recalls
  • Lessen the time and expense requirements for automakers to address software related cybersecurity issues
  • Introduce new vehicle features and performance enhancements—both for free and paid—after a vehicle has been manufactured and purchased. What consumer wouldn’t be delighted to know a recent software update improved the fuel economy or enhanced the safety features of their second most expensive purchase after real estate?
  • Dynamically collect operational data from vehicles that can be analyzed to power proactive service recommendations to protect consumer vehicle investments and offer highly personalized and relevant transportation services to enhance consumer driving experiences

How does Airbiquity see the current COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting slowdown in the automotive industry? 

Like many other industries COVID-19 initially dealt a blow to the automotive industry and created a very difficult business environment in terms of automotive sales. But we’re starting to see automotive sales rebound as we move towards 2021. We’re also seeing automakers maintain prior investment levels in developing new technologies like electric vehicle platforms, autonomous driving capabilities, and the prioritization of OTA systems because they are so crucial to the operation, maintenance, and security of connected vehicles and monetization of data centric consumer services.

Do you foresee new technology adoption by the automotive industry or its introduction in the market going on low burner?

Every industry today is driven by technology advancements and the automotive industry is no exception. While our industry is notorious for moving carefully and slowly—production cycles take multiple years—automakers know they need to incorporate the latest and greatest technology to stay competitive. Leading automakers are continuing to push forward with electrification, autonomous, and new mobility service development – all of which are highly dependent on vehicle software and data. OTA systems are critical to the success of these initiatives and are therefore being prioritized.

Would you like to share any update on Choreo? Is the COVID-19 pandemic leading to some new health or features in Choreo?

Choreo® is Airbiquity’s private cloud platform and used to deploy previous and current automotive programs like safety & security and infotainment before the onset of OTA. Airbiquity’s chose to utilize public cloud options like Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services for OTAmatic deployments as they are increasingly preferred by our automaker customers. Additionally, COVID-19 has not impacted the requirements for any of our program deployments.

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