EV Tech Simplified: how do OTA updates work?

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Aren’t we all geeky about the latest software for our smartphones and personal computers? After all, these updates bring us a bunch of new features and improvements without having to buy a new model. Now, these Over-The-Air (OTA) updates are something we hear about quite often as well when we talk about EVs. But have you ever wondered how these updates work and what exactly do they do to your VE? Well, here’s everything you need to know about OTA updates:

Why do we need OTA updates?

Just like smartphones, high-end electric vehicles today contain many features that ensure the vehicle runs smoothly. Along with good hardware, software plays a major role in ensuring the performance and safety of a vehicle. Recent cases of Ola Electric Scooters randomly switching to “Reverse” mode are a prime example of the critical importance of software programming in an electric vehicle.

Having the “privilege” of OTA updates means that you don’t need to go to the service center if there is a software problem with the VE and you can simply have your VE fixed remotely.

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Types of OTA updates

Live Software (SOTA)

These are (relatively) simple updates that change the software that governs any physical or electronic aspect of the vehicle. SOTA updates are most commonly used for interfaces such as the instrument console or navigation.

Wireless Firmware (FOTA)

This is a slightly complicated OTA update that may change the behavior of your vehicle. We’re talking about improved range, more performance, a change in the way power is delivered. And for obvious reasons, we see less of it.

To put them into perspective, SOTA is something like a security patch or bug fixes or a minor feature update on your phone, while FOTA updates are more like a completely new operating system that would take more time to settle.

How do these OTA updates work?

OTA updates are delivered remotely using the company’s cloud server. Updates are then downloaded using a Wi-Fi or cellular connection. The downloaded software package is then installed automatically, much like we see on our laptops or smartphones.

One of the most recent examples is Ola Electric’s next MoveOS 2.0. This firmware update will potentially contain all of the features that were shown at launch but not rolled out to customers. We hope this update also fixes the inverted mode issue with the S1.

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