The changing face of transportation is putting new pressures on automotive software, with one report predicting the global automotive-software market will reach $43.5 billion by 2027. There are many reasons behind this growth, but the evolution of In-Vehicle Infotainment systems (IVI) is a dominant trend.
As software plays an increasing role in automotive functionality, vehicles will be continuously updated with new capabilities and customizations. While this will be a welcome change, it will lead to more regulations, placing new pressures on OEMs to keep their automotive software updated and compliant. The IVI provides a hint into how OEMs may solve this challenge on a broader scale.
Android Management Framework: Simplifying Remote System Configurations
The In-Vehicle Infotainment system (IVI) is emerging as a key technology consideration in the automotive space, and several contenders are trying to define its evolution. One contender, Google, has developed Android Automotive OS (AAOS), a platform that’s already used extensively in IVI. As more capabilities roll out, OEMs will be increasingly challenged to manage vehicle software.
Google previously introduced an enterprise device-management mechanism to allow any company to manage Android devices across the Android ecosystem. Using a framework called Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM), IT Administrators can configure and manage corporate devices. Through this framework, user accounts can be configured remotely, and policies such as restricting camera use within an enterprise can be enforced during the remote setup.
This enterprise system can enable privacy and security features such as VPN, Managed Play Store, multi-user, zero-touch permissions, remote data removal, and managed work profiles for remotely configuring Android devices.
By adopting this management system for vehicles, the AAOS-based infotainment systems can be dynamically and remotely managed. The Android management framework, when used in vehicles, can perform similar management activities, and accommodate regulation and security updates through the vehicle IVI platform. As the shared mobility market increases, and as car OEMs introduce vehicle subscription services, privacy, safety, and security in infotainment systems will become even more important.
How EMM Supports Enterprise Customers
Figure 1: Android device Management
EMM Console is a web application allowing IT administrators to handle all enterprise-managed mobile devices and on-device apps via Android Management APIs. Using these APIs, applications can manage (create, delete) an enterprise profile, assign managed devices, and manage (create, delete, enforce, modify) policies on managed devices. Android Management APIs can also be used by EMM service providers such as Google, SOTI, and Airwatch to extend available products and services.
In addition to device management, Google offers enterprise customers Managed Google Play, an enterprise version of the Google Play Store. Featuring mostly business apps, Managed Google Play is integrated into EMM Console, allowing enterprise users to download and install business apps that have been approved by IT administrators.
Similar to Managed Google Play, enterprise devices use Firebase, a cloud platform by Google that provides cloud functions for applications and services on Android devices. Firebase functions include storage, analytics, remote configurations, and messaging.
Device policies are resources of Android Management API to restrict operations and access on managed devices. Some of these policies are application installation enable/disable, connectivity enable/disable, and camera enable/disable. The Device Policy Controller (DPC), with help from a DPC library, acts as a bridge between the EMM Console/Server and managed device. DPC provisions Managed Google Play accounts and managed configurations for approved apps. This framework can also be used to manage automobile IVI systems, including allowing only approved applications, and complying with ever-growing safety regulations.
Android Framework Can Manage Driver Safety Protocols
Human interest and government regulations place maximum priority on driver safety. While safety regulations are often region specific, and vehicle OEMs are obliged to follow each region’s specific requirements, these regulations change frequently, making it challenging to comply.
The IVI is one domain where safety aspects can be addressed. AAOS is already used extensively in IVI. One of the key safety features in the AAOS is a framework and mechanism for driver distraction avoidance (DDA). Google has published Driver Distraction Guidelines (DDG) that must be followed for applications running on Automotive Android stack (AAOS).
Restrictions are dependent on multiple factors such as car driving state, car speed, and management and restrictions for multiple displays:
Car Driving state
Features and Actions are allowed based on car driving state – Parked or Idling or Moving
Restrictions are based on the speed of the car
Display id in case of multiple displays
The restrictions are configured in AAOS and applied to Automotive Android applications, which are forced to follow these restrictions. This is how OEMs are enforcing regulations now. Yet while AAOS has a process to enforce policies, it will still need software updates to comply as policies change.
Components involved in AAOS for this feature
Figure 2: Driver Distraction Avoidance: Components involved in AAOS
Putting it all Together: Adopting Android Management Framework for Android Automotive
As with enterprise device management, Android infotainment systems can be considered as managed devices, and remote authorization features can be used where policies will be specific to automotive restrictions.
Figure 3: Management of Android infotainment system also using the same Android Management Infrastructure
By adopting the EMM framework for automobiles, OEMs can configure the vehicle infotainment systems to adhere to regional regulations just before the vehicle enters a specific market. Updates can then be deployed remotely whenever regulations change. The same infrastructure can be used for managing automotive infotainment systems and enterprise devices used by employees of OEMs.
For self-driving car companies like Zoomcar and Drivezy, or corporations with a fleet of cars, this framework can be used to update infotainment systems with their own policies and driver alerts based on applicable restrictions. For shared mobility and vehicle-subscription services, the enterprise feature can also allow administrators to remotely wipe data infotainment systems when the car’s user changes. Even families can use this feature to set policies and alerts based on the user’s driving experience.
With the growing role of software in automotive technology, providing relevant updates and maintaining regulatory compliance will become increasingly complicated. Applying an existing, successful device-management framework to the automotive software infrastructure provides a good solution. To apply Android’s EMM system to the automotive industry, AAOS must be modified according to the Android Management feature. This will allow OEMs to easily update policies as needed. Though substantial changes in AAOS will be required, the Android Enterprise system is in a strong position to make these changes and remotely configure and manage all domains in a vehicle.
Kishore Kanala, Principal Architect, Wipro Limited.
With more than decades of experience on Linux-based systems, Kishore is responsible at Wipro for all market segments on Android and Linux-based platforms. He has helped customers with the development of Android- and Linux-based smartphones, enterprise rugged devices, automotive infotainment systems, and SmartTV. He is passionate about growing the Android ecosystem and its footprint.