IKERLAN leads the European UP2DATE project on technologies for remote upgrades of software critical

The technology centre is leading the project, aimed at assisting the automotive and railway markets with a technology to update critical systems remotely like in a smartphone.
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Apr 01, 2020

The means of transport of the future, be they cars or trains, will increasingly resemble computers or smartphones on wheels. The progress in digital technologies has increased the number of features that are implemented by means of software in these means of transport; systems that are beginning to embrace technologies used in smartphones, such as remote upgrades, ensuring that the system remains equally safe and secure after the update, to prevent possible attacks or external intrusions.

UP2DATE is an European project, led by IKERLAN, that aims to produce a positive impact on the industrial market in sectors such as the automotive and railway industries. The idea is to develop a technology that allows to remotely and securely update software in systems that are critical to means of transport such as cars and trains: systems where safety and security are key factors, and a failure can result in significant economic losses (for example, in a cyber-attack), physical damage or even threats to human life.

For example, these technologies will allow the manufacturer to remotely upgrade the vehicle's braking system to optimise the braking distance or update the cyber-attack protection system of a train, without interrupting its service.

Irune Agirre, coordinator of the project in IKERLAN, explains that the work will be directed at covering market needs: “Our aim is to ensure that the discoveries and developments generated within the framework of UP2DATE fit into the market, in line with the commitment to technology transfer that characterises European R&D&I projects”. It should be remembered that the vocation of the centre is always to develop useful technology for the real needs of companies.

UP2DATE has a budget of around 4 million euros for three years, provided by the European Commission through the Horizon 2020 Programme, a programme that funds research and innovation projects in various thematic areas.

Advantages of remote upgrades

UP2DATE will focus on the development of new technologies for updating software over-the-air on high performance computing platforms. These platforms have more and more capabilities, but are also increasingly complex, which compromises their safety and certification costs.

Therefore, the advantages of over-the-air upgrades are numerous:  it will be possible to install the latest innovations in the control system, as if it were a smartphone, and correct programming errors without the need to repair or send personnel to the field. It also ensures that the system includes the latest security measures to protect against cyber-attacks.

In this respect, it is essential to guarantee that the system remains equally safe and secure after the update, to prevent accidents, possible attacks or external intrusions. For this reason, in addition to considering safety and security in the design and the update mechanism itself, UP2DATE will work on monitoring solutions that allow the safe behaviour of the system to be monitored before, during and after each update.

The project, led by IKERLAN, also includes participation from Barcelona Supercomputing Center, CAF Signalling, IAV, Marelli, Offis and TTTech auto.

Technology and Innovation for the improvement of the competitiveness of the Services Sector