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  7. The car’s FOTA era...

[YesAuto Use Car Collection] In 2018, Tesla Model 3 was “fired” by Consumer Reports, claiming that its braking distance performance was worse than that of a Ford F-150 pickup. Faced with doubts, Musk promised to give a solution in the short term. While the outside world was speculating about how Tesla will solve this crisis, in less than a week, Tesla pushed an OTA remote upgrade. The upgraded Model 3 was re-tested by Consumer Reports, and the braking distance of 60mph (imperial system, about 97km/h) was shortened by 5.8 meters.

In the uproar, many people were confused. In the general public's consciousness, it was necessary to replace the tires or brake discs. At least they should be re-calibrated at the 4S shop to solve the problem. Why a remote update can solve the problem. But in fact, more and more car companies have begun to use FOTA to solve vehicle problems and even improve performance.

At this year's Guangzhou Auto Show, at the Geely booth, we happened to encounter a staff member who was upgrading Xingrui's in-vehicle system. The exchange learned that this “FOTA” optimized the hot engine idling strategy in SPORT mode and improved engine noise. The cooling performance of the air conditioner has been optimized at the same time, and the NVH of the air conditioner has been optimized.

So, what exactly is “FOTA” that Geely refers to? What is the difference with our common “OTA”? What does the corresponding “SOTA” mean?

An “electrified” modern car usually has dozens to hundreds of large and small ECUs . FOTA updates these ECUs through the OTA Manager, which is like upgrading the BIOS or graphics card driver of a computer motherboard.

OTA itself is a general concept that includes and does not specifically refer to FOTA or SOTA, but because FOTA upgrades require stronger industry chain capabilities and technical strength, car companies with FOTA capabilities usually emphasize that they are FOTA. The above mentioned heat engine idling, air conditioning and refrigeration and NVH optimization mainly involve FOTA, while the addition of the volcano entertainment zone is mainly SOTA.

Ideal ONE started the internal beta push of OTA 2.0 around the Guangzhou Auto Show. It is expected to start all user pushes at the end of December. We are the product manager who “grabbed” Ideal ONE at the Guangzhou Auto Show and communicated with her.

We will not discuss the event itself here, but only focus on the OTA upgrade topic that we are involved in in this article. The way to quickly start the function iteration is valuable in itself, and there are examples to follow.

Some functions that seem to be locked and finalized when the car is off the assembly line, or iterative or newly added to the ideal ONE, must be implemented through FOTA technology.

As far as Ideal ONE is concerned, after mass production went offline, about 10 OTA upgrades have been pushed successively, and rapid iteration is almost a common feature of new car forces .

In the era of electrification and electronic control, in addition to the upgrade of practical functions, when we return to “performance” requirements, technology has been exploring how to achieve better performance and even performance through more advanced control strategies without changing the hardware. .

At the beginning of 2020, also through OTA, the Tesla Model S/X long-endurance version received up to 30 kilometers of extra battery life. FOTA, which has penetrated into the motor control and power management ECU, has been able to actually improve the performance of pure electric vehicles without changing the hardware .

After all, in the automotive aftermarket, the “computer brushing” business does not exist for a day or two. “Official first-order” OTA push may not become a feature service or optional item in the future.

With the popularization of technology, regulatory agencies have begun to pay more attention. Earlier, the State Administration for Market Regulation issued a notice stating that in accordance with the “Regulations” and the “Implementation Measures”, companies that require OTAs need to file with the Quality Development Bureau of the State Administration for Market Regulation. For OTA technical service activities that have been implemented from January 1, 2020 to before the issuance of this notice, producers should supplement the record before December 31, 2020.

This will slow down the speed of car companies pushing OTA upgrades to a certain extent, but at the same time, under supervision, consumers can obtain more transparent information, and the practice of using OTA upgrades to conceal product defects will also be controlled.

Full text summary

After so many years of Tesla's “dominant”, we are first of all very happy to see the rapid follow-up of Chinese brands in OTA, especially FOTA technology, in the past two years. There is no doubt that this is meaningful. As far as the technology itself is concerned, don’t underestimate the capabilities of OTA, and don’t overestimate the value of OTA. It can be used to do “good”, such as continuously improving the car experience; it can also be used to do “evil”, such as the former. A while ago, Model 3 paid to unlock the rear seat heating function caused an uproar, and car companies with convoluted minds may also use OTA technology to sell semi-finished products in the future.

But no matter what car companies want, they must embrace the OTA technology at the moment. OTA will change the gameplay and revenue structure of car companies/industry, change our perspective on the car as a century-old tool, and change the car itself. I dare not say The “future” is good or bad, but it is destined to be the “future”. (Photo/Zheng Xu from the home of the car)