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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The next two years will see a dramatic increase in the number of vehicles capable of over-the-air software updates.

The big picture: OTA software updates are a convenient delivery method for rolling out new features and protecting increasingly sophisticated vehicles from safety and cyber threats — if the right security and logistics measures are in place.

Currently, routine vehicle software updates or changes can require a recall, which elevates the perceived severity of commonplace software maintenance and involves a time-consuming, costly installation by a certified dealer technician.

The impact:

What's needed: For automakers and car owners to successfully embrace OTA software updates, there will need to be encrypted software keys and other tools to implement effective safety and security measures. Functionally, some updates may need to be installed exclusively while the vehicle is not being operated.

Yes, but: Different updates will still likely require varying levels of driver and dealer intervention to complete.

  • For instance, cybersecurity updates should be automatic, whereas ADAS-related updates should require driver approval and training on any new features.
  • It could be possible to make any updates that impact vehicle operation active only after the driver views a training video, reads through a tutorial, or receives training from the dealer.
  • Unsuccessful or incompatible installs should automatically roll back to the prior version, ensuring continuity and safety.

What to watch: GM is launching a new OTA platform in 2020, FCA will offer OTA in all new vehicles by 2022, and Jaguar plans to expand its OTA rollout after successful tests with management cars.

Oren Betzaleli is an SVP at Harman, which develops OTA, cloud and cybersecurity systems for automakers, including FCA, Jaguar and others.

Go deeper

Jan. 6 panel subpoenas 2 far-right "America First" activists

The House panel investigating the Capitol riot, from left; Reps. Bennie Thompson, Liz Cheney, Adam Kinzinger and Jamie Raskin on Capitol Hill in December. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the Capitol riot issued subpoenas Wednesday for far-right leaders Nick Fuentes and Patrick Casey, who allegedly encouraged followers to go to D.C. and challenge the 2020 election results.

Why it matters: The action underscores the panel's increasing focus on rallies held ahead of the Capitol attack and how extremists were drawn to former President Trump's baseless claims of widespread voter fraud, per the New York Times.

Democrats fail to change Senate rules to pass voting rights bill

Senate Majority Leader during a news conference in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democrats failed Wednesday night to change Senate filibuster rules to pass the voting rights bill, with Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) voting with Republicans.

The big picture: The failed effort came after Senate Republicans blocked the voting rights measure from coming to a final vote earlier Wednesday.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Supreme Court rejects Trump's attempt to shield documents from Jan. 6 committee

Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

The Supreme Court rejected on Wednesday night a bid by former President Trump to block the release of documents and records from his administration to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol.

Why it matters: Trump asked the Supreme Court to step in and block the release of the documents last month after a panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit unanimously denied his attempt to prevent the committee from obtaining the materials.