OTA Updates - Technical Info

breeves002

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I was doing some light reading in the WSM and wanted to share what I found about OTA updates. I'm marking general points of interest in bold then quoting those excerpts.

System Diagram:
4 modules use an 'ethernet' network (its a 2 wire custom bus) to communicate. Everything else communicates via CAN. There are 6 CAN networks in the MME. HS 1 to 4, FD-CAN (adjustable datarate) and MS. There are also some other FD CAN or local CAN/LIN networks to communicate direct between modules or modules that are not CAN networked but need to have a data stream for some various reason.
MME OTA1.jpg

Out of the 44 possible modules in the vehicle (depends on trim/options) 37 are able to be updated over the air. Here is the list:

MME Module List OTA.jpg

The modules that cannot be updated are the ACM (Audio Control Module), BCMC (Body Control Module C, or battery junction box/fuse box under hood), BECMB (Battery energy control module B), DSP (B&O), GSM (Gear shift module), OCS (occupant classification system/passenger seat airbag sensor), RGTM (rear gate/trunk module), and the WACM (wireless phone charger). I think this list of modules makes sense to not require updates considering what they do. The actual audio system/sirius receiver/DSP seem like an update should be available but they didn't implement it. Things like the BCMC are just a fusebox, and the BECMB/OCS are airbag system related modules separate from the main RCM.

Erase and replace vs ABA swap:
"Erase and Replace Modules
Many modules on the vehicle need to be erased before new data can be installed. The software installation process can take up to 40 minutes to complete. Updates to these modules need to be scheduled and specific vehicle conditions must be met for the update to be initiated.

ABA Swap Configuration Modules
For modules that have an ABA swap configuration the update is applied to the B portion of the module while the vehicle continues to reference the data in the A portion. The module will reference the new data once a key cycle has completed."


A basic overview:
" Over The Air (OTA) module updates are released from the Ford cloud and received by the vehicle GWM over the vehicle cellular and WiFi connection. The TCU WiFi and cellular connection is used to connect the vehicle to the Ford data cloud and pass the data to the GWM over its Ethernet network connection. The download of OTA updates from the cloud to the GWM occurs seamlessly in the background. Once the download from the cloud to the GWM has completed, the GWM manages the software update installation to the receiving module(s). The module updates are communicated between the GWM and the receiving modules over the Ethernet network, for Ethernet connected modules and the controller area networks (CAN), for all other modules, dependent on the update protocols.

For vehicles capable of receiving over the air updates there are 2 general types of update; Scheduled updates and Non Scheduled updates. If it is determined the update installation to the module requires the vehicle to be disabled for the installation process to complete, an installation update icon will appear on the vehicle display screen to inform the user to schedule a convenient time for the update to take place.

Vehicle status and operational preconditions must be met for all over the air (OTA) update software installations to complete, scheduled or unscheduled. Battery state of charge is an important factor that is considered before an update is started. The GWM is aware of the length of time required to update a given module and compares this against the battery state of charge. If it determines that the battery state of charge is not high enough to support the update, the update is cancelled. Other preconditions that must be met before an OTA update is installed. The PTS software update dashboard displays the preconditions applicable to your vehicle. The preconditions can include but are not limited to, the following:
Electronic Steering Column Lock (ESCL) is engaged
Steering tension torque, no torque is applied to the steering wheel
A diagnostic self-test is not active
No Charging faults are reported
Ignition status, Ignition Off
Ignition status, Accessory functionality Off
The battery voltage is within the required range
The vehicle is stopped PRNDL in park
Parking brake is applied
Charging is not in Progress ( hybrid or EV high voltage battery charging/LIII
The hazard indicators are off
The alarm is not sounding
The engine is not running
All doors and liftgate are closed
The parking lights are off
Limp home mode is not active
Illuminated exit is not active
The brake pedal is not being pressed
The battery voltage is within the required range
The windows are closed and not operating
eCall is not active
Remote start is not active
Vehicle theft (SVS) is not active
Remote park assist is not active
Neutral tow is not active
4x4 high/Low is not active
A DTC requiring vehicle service, is not present in the module targeted for the update.

The vehicle must be off for a minimum of 5 minutes before the GWM will attempt the target module update, scheduled or unscheduled. The GWM confirms the 5 minute off condition is met, all other preconditions are met and the battery status can support the update process before initiating the module update(s).

Note: The GWM considers the battery life while the module programming action is active and the vehicle is off, to be a maximum of 40 minutes. With the deterioration of the state of charge increasing after the 5 minute period with the vehicle off before starting any update, the maximum download time allowable is approximately 10 minutes. "

Some other interesting snippets:
" All module software update files are downloaded from the Ford data cloud by the GWM to the GWM through the vehicle WiFi or cellular connection, expect for APIM SYNC software files, which are passed through the GWM to the APIM. Updates to the APIM module are driven by the GWM. "

It appears the gateway module (GWM) has a decent amount of on board storage to be able to download and then distribute updates. Some updates like the IPMA can be multiple gigabytes in size.

More info on Gateway Module:
"The GWM serves as the programming manager for over the air software updates completed for target modules. Depending on the modules involved the gateway module may store the update or just relay the update to the target module. The gateway module acts as a router or hub for the Ethernet networks and is also connected to the vehicle CAN. Software updates can be deployed from the GWM to target modules using either CAN or Ethernet networks."

The WSM also talks about signal strength for cellular downloads:
" The vehicle has 2 sources of connection to the Ford data cloud, vehicle WiFi and vehicle cellular data. The vehicle is required to have a minimum of 3 bars signal at the location where the vehicle is parked over night, to make sure OTA updates are completed without delays. "

There are 3 types of updates:
" There are a number of OTA update sub types as described below.
Simple: These are update releases that generally affect a single module.
Coordinated: These are update releases that may affect a number of modules and requires each module to be at a specific version.
Non Coordinated: update may include multiple modules in each update, however does not require all modules to be at a specific software version. "

Cancelling updates while installing:
" The customer does not have the direct ability to cancel an OTA system software update. There are a few reasons why an update may be canceled.

Ford Motor Company can cancel the update at any time before the installation of the update is complete.
If the automatic updates setting has been toggled to OFF, with the vehicle connectivity selection still enabled, the update will expire after a period of time if a manual update icon is not available from the vehicle display screen determined based on currently installed software.
A master reset can cancel an ongoing update. "

Update history can be seen in PTS along with a ton of other info about previous software, etc. It says release notes will be available in PTS as well but I'm not sure if it is different than the public release notes. It will also show in progress updates."

USB Updates (applies to only APIM, IPMA, IPC, TCU, and maybe GWM):
"Updating Modules Using The Diagnostic Scan Tool
Modules with an Ethernet network connection can be updated through the diagnostic scan tool, using the USB flash method. A 32 GB USB drive formatted to exFAT can be used to transfer software to the Ethernet connected modules. Connect the appropriate exFAT format USB drive to the diagnostic scan tool and follow the on screen prompts to complete the software download."

There are a few more parts I left out. A large section on scheduled updates that we already know, and some other basic info we already know such as notifications and that you have to turn automatic updates on for them to be automatic...

All of the quoted information and images is copyright Ford Motor Company and I am providing it here for educational purposes for forum members.
 
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Mirak

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Also, all OTA update release notes will simply say “What’s in it? Refinements, bug fixes, and unicorn kisses.”
 

BMT1071

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Very informative, @breeves002 I don't have my MME yet so this may be obvious. Where can you view the vehicle's cell signal strength?
 

mixduptransistor

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A lot of this info makes sense, but, I'm curious how it will all work in practice. There are a few updates that are out there that can be flashed onto your car if you take it to Ford, but no OTA for them yet. I would hope that when the OTA pipeline gets going, all modules on all cars will get all of the updates, and the early "calibrations" will not only be for cars that had a serious enough problem to go into service

And, I am assuming that a "calibration" is just a Ford term for a version of the firmware on a module? Or is that different from an update considered in this process?
 
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breeves002

breeves002

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Also, all OTA update release notes will simply say “What’s in it? Refinements, bug fixes, and unicorn kisses.”
Yes, but I'm wondering if they give Ford dealers a better look into it. I want a VIN that has had the OTA so I can go and run it and click the OTA portal to see if there is any additional information.

A lot of this info makes sense, but, I'm curious how it will all work in practice. There are a few updates that are out there that can be flashed onto your car if you take it to Ford, but no OTA for them yet. I would hope that when the OTA pipeline gets going, all modules on all cars will get all of the updates, and the early "calibrations" will not only be for cars that had a serious enough problem to go into service

And, I am assuming that a "calibration" is just a Ford term for a version of the firmware on a module? Or is that different from an update considered in this process?
Most modules in Ford vehicles have updates at some point in the first few years. Most of the cars never even get the updates unless there is an issue related to that system. When UCDS adds support or I feel like re-subscribing to FDRS/IDS I'll see just how many modules have updates available now and make a post on it.

I'm going to guess that Ford will only update what is really necessary OTA but we'll see! They probably won't even tell you what modules were updated most of the time. The good news is I can at least see that in PTS if I run the vin and go to the OTA portal.

Also yes calibration = firmware/software. Ford uses standard part numbers for calibrations.

Very informative, @breeves002 I don't have my MME yet so this may be obvious. Where can you view the vehicle's cell signal strength?
There's signal strength bars at the top of the sync display.
 

SteelMach

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Also, all OTA update release notes will simply say “What’s in it? Refinements, bug fixes, and unicorn kisses.”
Seriously.

In other news, the exact opposite of Ford's update notes school of thought was released today - in a patch for Cyberpunk 2077 (a game that had plenty of bugs to fix), the devs wrote out for the players the details of 505 "most notable" bugs that were fixed in that one update, plus "many more": https://www.cyberpunk.net/en/news/37801/patch-1-2-list-of-changes

Would be great if Ford landed somewhere in between "bug fixes" and a list quite that long :p
 

KAustin

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A lot of this info makes sense, but, I'm curious how it will all work in practice. There are a few updates that are out there that can be flashed onto your car if you take it to Ford, but no OTA for them yet. I would hope that when the OTA pipeline gets going, all modules on all cars will get all of the updates, and the early "calibrations" will not only be for cars that had a serious enough problem to go into service

And, I am assuming that a "calibration" is just a Ford term for a version of the firmware on a module? Or is that different from an update considered in this process?
Several of the updates that were required already were for the modules he mentions cannot be done OTA.
 

CarsIMBwife

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This is the closest thread I can find for my OTA question. My WiFi connection is limited, and I need the bandwidth for work. I live in an area with no high speed broadband other than cell phone hot spots. I have two that I swap to get me through the month. What I’m trying to figure out is how/if I am notified of an OTA along with its size. I currently update my cell phone and tablet on the last day of my plan. I’m going to need to do the same with the car. Thanks.
 
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breeves002

breeves002

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This is the closest thread I can find for my OTA question. My WiFi connection is limited, and I need the bandwidth for work. I live in an area with no high speed broadband other than cell phone hot spots. I have two that I swap to get me through the month. What I’m trying to figure out is how/if I am notified of an OTA along with its size. I currently update my cell phone and tablet on the last day of my plan. I’m going to need to do the same with the car. Thanks.
There currently appears to be no mechanism to tell people an update is queued. I feel they’ll change that at some point. You just have to connect to WiFi and hope. The good news is - it really shouldn’t use any data unless its updating.
 

GoGoGadgetMachE

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There currently appears to be no mechanism to tell people an update is queued. I feel they’ll change that at some point. You just have to connect to WiFi and hope. The good news is - it really shouldn’t use any data unless its updating.
OTAs should come over the car's cell connection if there's no WiFi anyway, at least so we've been told, so ultimately in this use case I'd never connect to the WiFi.
 

macchiaz-o

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OTAs should come over the car's cell connection if there's no WiFi anyway, at least so we've been told, so ultimately in this use case I'd never connect to the WiFi.
Good call. Very large updates may require wifi, but hopefully the car will notify you in that case so you could turn wifi back on when ready for it.
 
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breeves002

breeves002

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OTAs should come over the car's cell connection if there's no WiFi anyway, at least so we've been told, so ultimately in this use case I'd never connect to the WiFi.
I don't think they will though unless it is a critical safety update. I'm 99% Ford will be too cheap to foot that data bill. APIM updates can be 1gb+.
 

GoGoGadgetMachE

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I don't think they will though unless it is a critical safety update. I'm 99% Ford will be too cheap to foot that data bill. APIM updates can be 1gb+.
do we know for sure either way? I was like 99% sure we knew that it would do it over cell if necessary. But I can't point to any references or anything.

hey @trutolife27 is there a way you can find out? (*)

(*) "what random Ford employee can I tag here?" 😂
 
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breeves002

breeves002

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do we know for sure either way? I was like 99% sure we knew that it would do it over cell if necessary. But I can't point to any references or anything.

hey @trutolife27 is there a way you can find out? (*)

(*) "what random Ford employee can I tag here?" 😂
Yes I believe it will *if necessary*. I'm betting most OTA updates are not deemed necessary enough to go over cell. Even Teslas will not go over cell unless they have to. They'll tell you for months to connect to wifi to update. At least the X I drove a lot did.
 

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