Industry projections for over-the-air (OTA) vehicle data management suggest the technology could save automakers US$35 billion over the next five years. That’s a big claim.

How can this be achieved, and what are the risks or rewards? Here, Jeremy Cowan of IoT Now talks to industry insider, Scott Frank, vice president of Marketing at Airbiquity.

IoT Now: OTA and in-car data management are predicted to save the industry $35 billion over the next five years? How is such a large figure arrived at?

Scott Frank: OTA cost savings estimates are primarily attributed to reducing automotive OEM (original equipment makers) expenses for updating software related to vehicle design, production, distribution and post-purchase recalls, cybersecurity breaches, maintenance, and delivery of feature improvements. Updating software in a non-OTA enabled vehicle is a time-consuming manual process that is performed by the OEM (pre-purchase) or authorised dealers and service providers (post-purchase).

Vehicles with OTA capability can receive software updates remotely, thereby eliminating costs associated with the manual software update process which have been estimated at approximately $50 per ½ hour of labour. When you factor in multiple software updates per year per vehicle, for hundreds of millions of vehicles around the world, you can see how the expense savings can exponentially grow into the multi-billions. (For more information on the $35 billion estimate, from a 2015 IHS Markit report, check out the link here).

IoT Now: What is the downside or risk in this cost-saving? Such as security of vehicle-to-any (V2X) communications?

Scott Frank: The potential OTA cost savings benefits more than outweigh any safety and security-related risks. Having said this, safety and security has always been — and will continue to be — a top concern of automakers and automotive suppliers.

As automotive OTA technology continues to evolve and penetrate greater numbers of vehicles produced automotive designers and engineers will continue working hard to ensure that safety and security provisions are in-place to protect vital vehicle systems, components, and software and data transmissions to and from the vehicle from intrusions, cybersecurity threats, and other malicious behaviour.

IoT Now: There have been lurid headlines about vehicle hacking. How can Airbiquity help to protect corporate customers and car users?

Scott Frank: One way is to provide automotive customers with the ability to monitor vehicle conditions and execute OTA software update campaigns to quickly and efficiently detect and mitigate cybersecurity issues as they arise. Another way is ensuring Airbiquity’s connected vehicle software technology, products, and service delivery capability utilise the most advanced security techniques and protocols available when deployed, and can be updated when necessary post-deployment to maintain the highest degree of security integrity possible.

IoT Now: Does the auto industry acknowledge that IoT security is not a bolt-on option, or a software package that can be deployed and forgotten? Is the industry creating all the necessary security processes?

Scott Frank: Absolutely. Security is a constant concern in automotive, and even more so in an era of increasing connectivity and utilisation of software to run and manage vehicles and power engaging and useful consumer experiences.

Evidence of this is increased security dialogue and collaboration in traditional automotive forums like SAE International, newer ones like escar, and strong agenda representation in automotive events like TU-Automotive and AutoMobility LA to name just a few.

IoT Now: By leveraging data in the vehicle environment we’re on the cusp of the largest ROI (return on investment) opportunity the automotive industry has ever experienced. How can auto industry players share in that ROI?

Scott Frank: By creating and fostering ecosystems that can leverage vehicle data and analytics to power new innovative services and features that can be monetised or contribute to consumer brand preference and loyalty leading to the next vehicle purchase. For competitive reasons, we believe these ecosystems will be predominantly aligned with individual automakers and their specific business goals.

We also believe automakers will begin to strategically share anonymous vehicle data with federal, state, and local governments to improve driving safety on public roads and inform further developments in V2X and autonomous connectivity and supporting infrastructure.

Jeremy Cowan of IoT Now was talking to Scott Frank, vice president of Marketing at Airbiquity

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