GM Backs Remote Software Updates But Not for Critical Systems

By | January 7, 2016

General Motors Co. will not use ‘over-the-air’ upgrades, a way of remotely updating software on its vehicles, for safety-critical vehicle systems such as brakes, the automaker’s product development chief said on Wednesday, signaling a different approach from electric car maker Tesla Motors Inc.

Mark Reuss, head of GM’s global product development, said the U.S. No. 1 automaker plans to expand the use of over-the-air upgrades as it adopts a new electrical architecture for its vehicles over the next several years. GM makes some over-the-air updates to vehicles now through its OnStar telematics system, Reuss said.

“We don’t do as much PR around it,” said Reuss, speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, adding that GM’s new electrical architecture will be “ever more safe” from a data security standpoint and allow for additional upgrades.

However, asked if GM would use over-the-air upgrades for vehicle systems such as braking or steering, Reuss said: “We would never do that.”

Tesla has used over-the-air upgrades to push significant new features to its vehicles, including the software to enable an autopilot system that allows Tesla Model S sedans to steer themselves on the highway.

Tesla said it develops vehicles “with the highest standards of safety in every respect,” in a statement on Wednesday. It added that its over-the-air software updates not only add new features but also can quickly correct problems when necessary.

(Reporting By Joe White; Editing by Bill Rigby)

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