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Fill the Tank, Check the Oil and Update the Software

Posted: July 19, 2011

By Andy Gryc, Product Marketing, QNX Software Systems

When QNX Software Systems first started working with Red Bend in 2006, the bestselling vehicle in the U.S. was the Ford F-Series truck and smartphone shipments worldwide reached 64.1 million units, up 63 percent from the previous year.

Our companies began collaborating then because we knew that a huge change was coming to both of our industries. The amount of software inside cars and mobile phones was growing, and the two worlds were converging.

According toAndy Gryc, QNX Software Systems J.D. Power and Associates, 86 percent of U.S. smartphone owners now use their devices inside their vehicles and two-thirds of them want their cars to have Internet connectivity. They also want cars smart enough to take advantage of the many services, including navigation, local search, and geosocial networking, that their smartphones already offer.

QNX Software Systems and Red Bend weren’t the only companies that believed software was going to change the driving experience, but given each company’s expertise, we clearly understood the management challenge that software-rich cars would pose.

An article in USA Today in May 2007 revealed that cars with onboard navigation units depreciated faster than those without them. A key reason: the navigation units would quickly become outdated.

Few people in the car industry were aware that the mobile phone industry already had a solution for keeping software up to date. And this is what QNX Software Systems and Red Bend, together, set out to demonstrate with firmware updating over the air (FOTA).

Fast forward to 2011, and nearly every OEM and Tier-1 supplier recognizes FOTA as an essential capability for the connected car. FOTA is particularly useful for in-car infotainment systems, which must keep pace with rapidly evolving mobile services and devices.

Consumers expect the cars they buy today will support new applications and work with new mobile devices two years from now. FOTA can protect OEMs from technology obsolescence and give consumers peace of mind when they make buying decisions.QNX CAR Dashboard

QNX Software Systems and Red Bend are working together to make it easier for automakers to integrate FOTA into their vehicles. We recently announced that Red Bend’s industry-leading vRapid Mobile® FOTA software has been ported to the QNX Neutrino® Realtime Operating System, a leading OS for in-car telematics and infotainment.

With the porting work already completed, OEMs and Tier-1s can add FOTA capability faster and more easily to their QNX-based systems. But FOTA isn’t limited to infotainment systems; it also can be added to any other electronic system in the vehicle. With today’s cars containing dozens of electronic control units (ECUs), the ability to maintain large amounts of software efficiently and securely over the lifetime of those vehicles can be vital to both safety and consumer satisfaction.

Just as it was in 2006, the Ford F-Series is still the most popular vehicle in America today, and may very well be number one again in 2016. But who knows what car applications and mobile services will be in demand then? As long as it’s a vehicle built on a robust and modular QNX software platform featuring Red Bend’s FOTA updating technology, you don’t need to worry too much about it. That’s the point.