The future of over-the-air engine updates
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The future of over-the-air engine updates

Managing Editor of Fleet Equipment Magazine

engines-2021
Art by Tammy House

You’ve read all about the latest over-the-air engine update offerings (and if you haven’t, you can check out that story here). And you may be wondering, what’s next for OTA?

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FE’s interviewed experts suggested that upcoming innovations will focus on making the software changes more dynamic, reducing the need for downtime when updating, and giving more control to the driver and the fleet manager.

“Truck OEMs are moving towards offering OTA updates in a manner where the customer can initiate the update whenever they want, keeping it more self-serve,” says Aparna Venkatraman, director of digital product management for the Cummins Engine Segment. “These OEMs are also focusing on using the instrument cluster to communicate with the driver and increase product adoption. Fleets are generally avoiding the driver’s use of cell phones while on the job and the instrument cluster usage supports that need as well.

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Future enhancements, Venkatraman continues, will be focused on new capabilities like ECM Trim Parameter updates to allow fleet managers to better configure their equipment based on changes in their operational needs. 

“Additional areas of focus will likely be improving the speed and efficiency of software updates so there’s no need for downtime and updates take even less time, as well as making it so the software changes dynamically while the truck is in operation,” Venkatraman adds.

Anil Khanna, director of product for the Connectivity Services Group at Daimler Trucks North America. says that new features, such as the ability to schedule remote updates from within a vehicle, support of multi-controller updates, etc., will give more control to the driver and fleet manager.

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Ashley Murickan, product manager for Volvo Trucks North America, says the OEM sees software and parameter updates becoming even faster with fewer interruptions to the driver. “Parameter updates should become more dynamic, and enable the truck to adapt automatically to local conditions,” he suggests. “For example, the speed limit changes to 65 MPH at the state border; the truck automatically adjusts the road speed max parameter to comply. Or the truck enters a downtown/metropolitan area and therefore applies a three-minute idle shutdown Parameter Kit to comply with idling laws.”

Srinivas Mallela, director of connected vehicle platform/OnCommand Connection at Navistar, says that over-the-air is evolving from simply updating the calibration of the vehicle for maximizing the vehicle to programmable parameters that allow the customer to customize the vehicle operation to their needs and the driver. 

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“With more and more software-driven vehicles, OTA will be used for maximizing the uptime and improving the operational efficiency by bringing in intelligence to the vehicle,” Mallela predicts, “such as automating speed limit changes depending on the location of the vehicle and personalizing the driver experience to each unique driver.”

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