Over two decades ago, communication and mobility were the driving forces behind the development of the first advanced telematics systems for cars. In 1996, General Motors’ first OnStar telematics modules rolled off the production line at the Motorola Automotive Group, which was later acquired by the international technology company Continental.
Since then, the company has been advancing vehicle connectivity at a global level, delivering over 28 million telematics and connectivity products based on diverse wireless technologies such as cellular, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for more than 20 years.
From 2005 on, telematics technology was deemed to be standard vehicle equipment. For the first time, electronic components were integrated in the vehicle’s human-machine interface and a back-end was developed, which sent vehicle-related data to external servers and enabled remote data access.
In 2007, Continental introduced data-only telematics. This concept, now known as “Machine-to-Machine telematics”, is used as the basis for the vast majority of today’s telematics modules, which are now delivered worldwide.
The next milestone followed in 2012, when Continental brought the fifth generation of full-featured telematics platforms to the market supporting the LTE standard for the first time. Today, the latest generation of telematics platforms supports a transmission rate of 150 to 600 megabits per second.
Vehicle manufacturers have long recognised the importance of a fast data connection for their vehicles. That is why various automakers around the world have decided to work closely with Continental to further develop connected cars and bring the latest vehicle generations up to 4G standard. Functions such as software updates via over-the-air interfaces will be essential for the OEMs.
To ensure that modern vehicles are “always on” and have fast access to external data at all times, they need a telematics module that takes on a wide range of functions at the centre of their communication. Over 35 basic remote vehicle service functions are now covered by these modules, such as automatic emergency call, remote diagnostics and stolen vehicle tracking, as well as connected searching for a parking space and cloud-based navigation.
According to the network providers’ estimates, in the next ten years, the new mobile communication standard could increase data transmission speeds from several hundred megabits per second (Mbps) to several gigabits per second (Gbps). As a massive step change in bandwidth availability and reduction in latency, 5G is expected to enable true real-time communication between the vehicle and the cloud, and thus enhance and realise a magnitude of different functions and automated driving.
OnStar isn’t the only automotive innovation by General Motors.