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Traveling through networks: Continental expands telematics portfolio with seamless connectivity

Today’s vehicles include up to 100 computing units and millions of lines of code. Keeping this digital network up-to-date or installing new functions has up to now most often required a trip to the repair shop. “With vehicles being more and more digitized and drivers being used to a digital lifestyle, it is essential to … Continued

Today’s vehicles include up to 100 computing units and millions of lines of code. Keeping this digital network up-to-date or installing new functions has up to now most often required a trip to the repair shop. “With vehicles being more and more digitized and drivers being used to a digital lifestyle, it is essential to keep the vehicle software up-to date at all times and to provide a convenient solution to install updates and new functions”, says Johann Hiebl, head of the Continental business unit Infotainment & Connectivity. The technology company Continental is helping vehicle manufacturers across the globe to solve this challenge by developing an over-the-air update solutions capable of updating the entire vehicle from powertrain to infotainment systems.

To achieve this, Continental is further expanding its portfolio towards holistic vehicle connectivity, teaming up with Carnegie Technologies, a leading wireless connectivity solutions provider, to ensure that vehicle manufacturers and drivers can always make use of the fastest, most reliable network connection available to the automobile.

Bridging connectivity gaps

Under the agreement, Continental is reselling Carnegie Technologies’ Network Convergence Platform and integrating it into Continental’s Smart Telematics solution for vehicle manufacturers. The solution runs on Continental’s next generation telematics control unit (TCU) with a supporting cloud-based component for analytics and diagnostics.

As vehicles move along the roadways, this technology provides bandwidth aggregation and gapless handover of calls and data for faster speeds and seamless switching between different networks, such as Wi-Fi, LTE, 3G, and satellite. These capabilities are essential for new data-intensive applications such as autonomous driving and over-the-air vehicle updates. In addition to terrestrial networks, Continental is developing over-the-air updates via satellite communication together with the mobile satellite communications company Inmarsat. By using Inmarsat’s global satellite network, Continental enables its customers to remotely update vehicles anywhere in the world, allowing them to easily run global update campaigns without the complexity of dealing with multiple mobile network operators.

“Over-the-air updates are an essential requirement for holistically connected vehicles and smart mobility. To turn wireless updates into a standard for future vehicles, updates need to be seamless, fast and available everywhere. Together with Inmarsat and Carnegie Technologies we are now able to fully support our customers and provide the best solutions for drivers around the globe”, says Johann Hiebl.

Smart Software for seamless connectivity

Carnegie’s intelligent software solution, that is now part of Continental’s Smart Telematics portfolio, continuously scans and measures available networks and the vehicle’s bandwidth requirements, and then automatically aggregates the networks to provide the fastest, most reliable and cost-efficient connection. Additionally, it includes VehicleLink, which uses in-vehicle bandwidth from devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops, or even external Wi-Fi, when available, to manage data costs and provide the best connection possible.

Carnegie’s Gapless Handover allows Continental’s Smart Telematics solution to deliver continuous data flow. If a cellular connection gets weak, but a Wi-Fi hotspot or smartphone with a different provider is available, it automatically switches the data flow to the most efficient data provider. If the connection is lost temporarily, such as driving through a tunnel, a call can stay activated in the background until a connection is re-established, providing session persistence. Vehicle manufacturers can have full control over when and how bandwidth aggregation and gapless handover are configured. They can choose which applications can use the embedded mobile network solution, prevent applications from using unsecured networks or set other parameters and rules. For example, media sync may be limited to the home Wi-Fi connection, passenger tablets can be prevented from using the embedded mobile network, or video conference calls can be set to seamlessly transition between embedded LTE, Wi-Fi or even satellite to avoid interruption in service.

“As cars become more and more integrated with the Internet, we’re pleased that Continental will be reselling Carnegie’s technology to deliver the reliable, secure and cost-efficient connectivity they need,” said Paul Posner, CEO of Carnegie Technologies. “Through the Smart Telematics platform, automobile manufacturers will now have an end-to-end solution to allow cars and riders to interact with their environment from the road.”

Reliable, efficient and cost effective: regarding updates via satellite network communication together with Inmarsat, the industry leader in global, mobile satellite communications, Continental is able to deliver another important piece to handle over-the-air updates globally through a single network. The growing number of connected vehicles worldwide are driving an increased frequency of updates that demand a scalable, global solution. Inmarsat operates multiple geostationary satellite constellations that provide a two-way data connection combined with a global broadcast capability to enable rapid, responsive and efficient over-the-air updates to vehicles everywhere. This will allow Continental’s customers to deploy worldwide update campaigns at the push of a button, bypassing the complexity of dealing with multiple mobile network operators. The collaboration between Continental and Inmarsat will also enable vehicles to leverage intelligent routing over satellite and terrestrial wireless (mobile, WiFi) networks to achieve the best quality of service, least cost, and highest availability.

Antennas, telematics units and gateways: the architecture for holistic connectivity

The vehicle’s connection to the outside world is provided by a so-called network access device developed by Continental. This can either be integrated into the intelligent antenna module or used as a standalone telematics unit. Gateways are intermediaries between the various network domains in a vehicle and act as communication routers.

They are centrally connected to all vehicle communication buses and have access to all relevant information. In this way, they provide the infrastructure required for over-the-air updates and distribute it to relevant electronic control units. The gateway can also be transformed from a pure information router to a central networking interface if the networking unit is directly integrated into the gateway.

Continental will also showcase its next generation telematics and connectivity portfolio at the Frankfurt Motor Show (IAA), held in Frankfurt/Main (Germany) in September (hall 5.1, booth A07 / A08).

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