More and more of today’s vehicles are being equipped with onboard telecommunications technology, but if one system is good, Land Rover is betting that two will be even better.
The new Land Rover Defender is set to become the first vehicle to include a dual modem system, each dedicated to specific features. The approach helps ensure that functions like over-the-air updates won’t inadvertently be interrupted.
“You could liken the design to a brain,” said Peter Virk, director of Connected Car and Future Technology, Jaguar Land Rover, “with each half enjoying its own connection for unrivaled and uninterrupted service. Like the brain, one side of the system looks after logical functions, like (over-the-air updates), while the other takes care of more creative tasks,” such as streaming music from online services.
Today’s vehicles are becoming, more and more, computers on wheels, with the trend only likely to continue. As Virk noted, motorists are demanding ever greater connectivity to access the same sort of services they have at home or the office, or on their smartphones. That is particularly apparent at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show where Byton debuted the production version of the M-Byte battery-electric vehicle with its 48-inch video dashboard capable of showing high-res movies.
But the onboard technologies that serve as the vehicle’s telecommunications backbone can readily be pushed to their limits, especially if the system also is trying to download an over-the-air update for the vehicle’s operating system. Smartphone-like OTAs were first used by Tesla but now are expected to become the automotive norm during the course of the coming decade, allowing an automaker to fix software flaws, while also downloading new features to a vehicle, without requiring a motorist to go to a dealership.
When Land Rover introduced the all-new Defender at the Frankfurt Motor Show last November, it revealed that it would have the capability of remotely updating 14 different onboard electronic modules. It has since announced that two more will be OTA-capable, and it plans to add still more in the near future.
Defender also will get JLR’s newest infotainment system, dubbed Pivi Pro. Motorists will be able to access the system through a 10-inch high-resolution touchscreen. Pivi Pro will be equipped with its own battery, JLR notes, meaning it will always be on and ready to operate the moment the vehicle is started. That will eliminate the annoying lag time customers experience waiting to perform functions like programming in a destination.
The new twin communications system relies on two Qualcomm Snapdragon Automotive Platforms. Each is equipped with its own 4G LTE modem. Meanwhile, Canada’s BlackBerry QNX provides the technology driving the infotainment system.
The new technology will reach market later this year in the reborn Land Rover Defender. Two versions will be offered, the big Defender 110 and, months later, the smaller Defender 90.
The British automaker has not revealed future plans, but the two-modem technologies is expected to eventually work its way through the JLR line-up as new models are introduced and old product lines undergo major updates.