Step into your favourite time machine, and rewind 15 years. Vehicle diagnostics were very different. Most passenger car vehicles were simple with only a handful of ECUs. The J1962 standardisation had ensured a common access platform for performing diagnostics, and whilst the tester technology may have been primitive compared to today, it was possible to perform electrical diagnostics.
Now fast forward to the present day, we observe an evolution of vehicle architectures, we see CAN usage grow, module count grow, vehicle feature complexity increases, finally we see the appearance of gateway style ECUs, the addition of DoIP (Diagnostics over Internet Protocol) and a significantly more complex vehicle.
Testers have symbiotically evolved to match the demands of the vehicle and the user, but fundamentally the landscape has remained the same. Diagnostics are performed via a connection to the vehicle and at the point where the vehicle already requires attention.
Of course, testers have evolved. It is possible to use a wireless tester. DoIP and WIFI technologies make this easy, but as already stated this is not a permanently connected solution.
The revolution that comes will be driven by connected diagnostics, but what does ‘Connected Diagnostics’ mean? Fundamentally, these two words are a doorway to allow the complete re-thinking of diagnostic use cases.
The idea of the connected vehicle is not new; indeed, we see software-over-the-air as an acknowledgement that this revolution has already begun. It is, however, what the connection is and how it is used that will be disruptive. Imagine the scenario where all vehicles can communicate remotely, can send diagnostic event information, and can receive operational commands.
We start by asking some questions, what are the pain points that our organisation face? What are our cost overheads? Where can we optimise and improve customer experience, and thus brand loyalty? How do we prepare for the future of shared mobility?
Whilst asking these questions, we quickly conclude that a permanently connected vehicle allows for many use cases that have the potential to reduce spend, and improve customer experience, a handful of these are explained in more detail below:
Security and Privacy
Security should be considered first and foremost in any connected environment. The concept of ‘secure by design’ should be followed. Concepts such as vehicle to infrastructure VPN, vehicle key/certificate authorization and always secure communication are just some of the measures that can be put in place to minimise any attack vectors [during external communication].
Data privacy has seen a lot of media attention recently [GDPR and the right to be forgotten], and this too is a large consideration during the development of a connected diagnostics system. Fundamentally any data transmitted relating to a vehicle needs to be handled in a safe and controlled manner. Customer consent is also a key factor, and organisations should consider changes to their terms and conditions to ensure that appropriate consent is given, and services are guarded accordingly.
These are just a few considerations, a CDS platform must be correctly designed and implemented to ensure that vehicle safety and customer privacy are positioned as the most critical component of the solution.
Vehicle communication is a critical part of the puzzle, a successful solution will require two-way communication between a vehicle and infrastructure. This presents several challenges, such as method of data communication, bill of materials extras, product engineering. Modern technologies are (if not already) reducing these barriers and falling commodity prices are making this technology more and more accessible. 3/4/5G data connections, commodity compute-platform ECUs, etc. are all key ingredients in a connected solution.
An interesting challenge to a successful platform is the variability of the demand that will be placed on any data capture component of a connected diagnostics system. Over time vehicle count or communication events will increase and there is no guarantee regarding the predictability of data delivery (due to vehicle communication availability, time zones, etc)
The key here is utilizing ‘design to scale’ principles when imagining the solution. An example of how this problem can be solved is shown in the architecture diagram below.
There are several parts that work together to minimise deployment overhead costs, whilst maximising scalability and seamlessly handling variation in demand.
Modern scalability techniques re-enforce this pattern and the resulting solution is both simple and highly-scalable. Continuing this philosophy thought a complete solution will ensure that an investment that is fit-for-purpose on day one will still be as such in years to come.
Any solution that an organisation imagines will come at no small cost (requirements on vehicle platform change, infrastructure, system change, support, etc.). hence what business benefits does this bring?
The focus so far has been around the connected vehicle, but there are much wider implications of such a solution within an organisation.
Firstly, the vast amount of data that such a solution will generate will require an appropriate IT solution that is both flexible and powerful. But, such data is of immense value across multiple departments. It can be used to understand long-term vehicle aspects that have simply not been possible to date.
Take for example component lifecycle analysis. Today, an organisation may only see a component after it has failed [and even then, not in all cases], and there is [often] no context with the failure. The failure of that component may trigger a DTC, but how long has that component been ‘90%’ failed? Turning this on its head, imagine a world where vehicles were reporting events that delivered the data that could answer these questions. Not only would engineers be able to evaluate and improve component performance, but they would be able to leverage that data combined with machine learning to more accurately predict failure in future.
We should not, however, forget legislation when thinking about connected diagnostics. Some geographies require that remote diagnostics capabilities be make available to the aftermarket. A connected diagnostics solution combined with [for example] an extended vehicle platform (ISO-20077/8/80) is a perfect solution that would satisfy the requirements of the legislation whilst delivering a safe, controlled solution.
Finally, looking to the future, a connected diagnostics solution has the potential to fulfil use-cases that have not yet been established. For example, standardised pay-per-use, or remote inspection are ideas that could easily develop into requirements that an organisation must fulfil.
A connected diagnostics solution opens a wide number of opportunities and provides business benefits that deliver on the investment that is required to deliver such a solution. So, the question should not be if, but when does your organisation embrace the connected journey?
As a leader in vehicle diagnostics, KPIT is aware of the potential benefits of a connected diagnostics solution.
The KPIT ‘Connected Diagnostics’ solution utilizes its proven diagnostics products and services to deliver a standards-based end-to-end solution that is fit-for-use today and long into the future. A typical solution can be seen in the diagram below.
The major components of the solution are:
KPIT has productive deployments of connected diagnostics systems. We can leverage our expertise in the diagnostics theatre to assist with planning your connected diagnostics solution.