OTA is a well-known term and the impact of over-the-air updates is a major story line in influential publications including The Wall Street Journal, Automotive News, The Drive, the Verge, Engadget and Forbes. In the last two weeks, both GM and BMW made headlines discussing plans to embrace OTA updates as a strategic solution to differentiate their offerings and remain competitive with new features and functions.

Our world is about to get even more interesting as concepts including homologation and type approval become common discussion points in our daily business meetings. Homologation and type approval are not new terms or concepts to the automotive industry. The terms refer to the process that consists of country-specific regulations for vehicle approval.

Homologation and type approval are becoming more significant and more complex as cars evolve. No longer is a car designed, built, certified and sold. Now vehicles receive updated software-based functionality throughout the vehicle lifecycle. The question being asked by the authorities is: ‘How to maintain type approval for devices that are constantly evolving?’

This topic has been discussed, and global regulations have been recommended by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), which includes members from Europe, North America and Asia. They are expected to be ratified by the end of 2019 and entered into law by the national regulation bodies in 2020.

According to the UNECE WP.29 position paper, an update to the vehicle’s type approval will be needed for all software updates unless the software update is only fixing bugs or applying a security patch. WP.29 also states that if the new software functionality only affects a limited amount of installed vehicle software, the tests required to receive amended type approval will also be limited.

So how do the auto manufacturers maintain conformity with the regulation in the most cost-efficient manner, while not leaving themselves open to concerns of liability?

This week, with the introduction of Auto Validate, Aurora Labs is leading the charge to help auto manufacturers adapt to the new dynamics of the type approval process in addition to liability and warranty concerns. Auto Validate is a Line-of-Code Intelligence machine learning product that creates software functionality relationship maps to compare software code from version-to-version. Auto Validate assigns a unique digital thumbprint to changes in existing functionality. This offers evidence that a specific bug-fix, or cyber-fix did not add new functionality and new type approval certification is not required. In addition, this process can be used to document which specific systems have been affected by a software update minimizing the amount of testing that is required for type approval certification when new functionality has been added to the vehicle.

Auto Validate will help the automotive manufacturers in three distinct ways:

  1. Streamline type approval process – Auto Validate will help automotive manufacturers streamline the type approval process by making it easy to pin-point exact tests required, if any tests are required at all, provide evidence for regulatory authorities, save time and decrease costs.
  2. Minimize liability concerns – Auto Validate will create a digital thumbprint of vehicle software that receives type approval and allow the auto manufacturer to easily compare the type-approved software with the in-vehicle software being sold to market. This minimizes liability concerns providing proof that the type approved software and the embedded software in the shipping vehicle are one-and-the-same.
  3. Resolve warranty disputes – By comparing the digital thumbprint of a vehicle that is being investigated with the original digital thumbprint of the vehicle when it left the production floor, the auto manufacturer will be able to determine if the vehicle has been altered and tampered with in such a way that may void the warranty. Such deterministic evidence will be essential in resolving warranty disputes.

It is a great time to be part of the automotive industry. We at Aurora Labs are excited to be part of the transformation bringing smart, in-vehicle software management solutions into the car and working with the automotive manufacturers to successfully grow and bring new, trustworthy experiences to drivers and passengers around the globe.