Press Release

Progress in Digitalization: New Orders for Smartphone-based Car Keys from Continental

  • Three global vehicle manufacturer from Europe and Asia order CoSmA digital access system from Continental
  • Integration into architecture of new vehicle generations in 2021
  • Continental CoSmA with ultra-wideband (UWB) radio technology: Access solution offers convenient hands-free system with enhanced anti-theft protection

As part of a successful development phase with customers and partners, the technology company Continental has won new production orders for its CoSmA smartphone-based vehicle access system. Three more major vehicle manufacturers are integrating the smartphone solution worldwide into the architecture of their upcoming vehicle generations. Production start is planned for 2021.

The CoSmA technology replaces conventional keys and is particularly user-friendly because drivers can access, unlock and start their car using their own smartphone without having to pick up the device. The core of the system is a digital key that contains the access authorization to the desired vehicle. In one app, the vehicle owner can generate and manage multiple digital keys at the same time and share them easily with family and friends. Package delivery services can even deliver online orders directly to the vehicle. As soon as authentication is provided by the backend key management system in the, access to the vehicle is granted.

“With CoSmA, the smartphone becomes a digital vehicle key. We are delighted that more vehicle manufacturers are integrating the solution into their vehicle generations, thereby making keyless operation of vehicles increasingly convenient through the use of personal smartphones,” says Johann Hiebl, head of the Connected Car Networking business unit at Continental. “Together, we’re taking the next step towards a fully digital user experience.”

CoSmA Enhanced with Ultra-Wideband (UWB) Technology

Vehicle access via smartphone from Continental uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) in the basic version. In the latest generation of the digital key, Continental also relies on ultra-wideband (UWB) technology, which offers greater convenience and new functions. The UWB and UWB Bluetooth Low Energy (UWB-BLE) transceiver modules enable the authorized smartphone to be located with high accuracy from both inside and outside the vehicle. The onboard architecture of the CoSmA solution also features a central electronic computer unit with a state-of-the-art secure element as certified secure storage for any digital vehicle key application. As soon as the position of the authorized smartphone is precisely determined, the system allows the vehicle to be unlocked and the engine to be started without having to pull out the smartphone (“hands-free”). The phone can, therefore, remain in the driver’s pocket. Precise localization also enables new user-centric functions such as remote-controlled parking via smartphone. In addition to this increased level of convenience, the smartphone-based solution with UWB technology provides protection against unauthorized access via relay attacks (man-in-the-middle), in which a vehicle thief intercepts and extends the key signal in order to gain access.

Together with other well-known companies, Continental is dedicated to the basic development of the UWB radio standard for vehicle access in the Car Connectivity Consortium (CCC). The CCC is working on a global standard for hands-free access to the vehicle and other applications for vehicle localization based on UWB technology. The aim of these efforts is to enable use for all smartphone operating systems and models.

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