M2M Automotive Diagnostics, is it the Future?

by on January 28th, 2011
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The term Machine to Machine (M2M) is used in the wireless communications business. The M2M wireless segment connects machine to machine (M2M) wirelessly. Every wireless supplier has a M2M division to support wireless communication of machines around the world. Companies like I.W.R.E . make wireless amplifiers that can boost and strengthen the wireless communication for not only machines but everyday cellular phones. This technology makes wireless communications reliable in almost every area of the world that has a cellular network, including satellite phones.

M2M technology has a future with the automotive industry. We have been using machine to machine diagnostic equipment since the 1980’s. The first generation of on-board diagnostics for vehicles was introduced in the early ’80s. The industry used a direct connect to the on-board diagnostic connector to communicate with the diagnostic system. The second generation of on-board diagnostics (OBDII) was introduced in 1996 and was mandated by the federal Government. The OBDII on-board diagnostic system is much more advanced then the first generation of on-board diagnostic systems. The OBDII system continues to advance with more diagnostics capabilities and information. We can now refer to a vehicle as a machine with its own local area network. This vehicle network also has a communications connector that allows machine to machine communications just like the first generation of on-board diagnostics systems.

Manufacturers’ of on-board diagnostic systems (M2M) like Snap-on have already released a wireless diagnostic system for the professional shops and Technicians. GM has introduced its new on-board diagnostic system (M2M) which is also a wireless communications machine for GM dealerships to diagnose OBDII systems. The traditional description of a M2M tool in the automotive industry has been Scan Tool. The need for a direct connection to the vehicle for diagnostics will remain the primary method of diagnosis of a vehicle fault by the technician.

M2M is already being used by systems like On-Star . On-Star communicates with the vehicle through wireless M2M technology. This is how the on-star system can alert drivers to pending faults, unlock doors and be notified about an airbag deployment.

The future could look something like this: the vehicle is equipped with M2M technology, the owner can select where the data will be sent for monitoring or evaluation. This could be a subscription call center staffed with technicians. The customer can have a default location or select a location for fault analysis assistance. The vehicle (machine 1) will then connect wirelessly to the machine of choice (Machine 2) for fault analysis and repair advice. This communication could also allow for the location of any parts needed to repairing the vehicle, and any manufacturers update information on the fault or vehicle. The repair information could also be sent to the repair facility along with any information needed to bring the repair to a successful conclusion. Shops that use M2M diagnostic technologies could be contacted for assistance and repair over the M2M communications system. The shop could even give an estimate of repair and set the appointment for the needed repair!

With the introduction of alternative population units for the transportation industry and the complexity of these systems, and training involved to repair these systems, the M2M system would reduce the frustration of repairing and finding qualified shops to perform these repairs. Hybrid technology and EV (electric vehicles) should be using this type of system today to address the diagnostics and motorist assistance. These vehicles could also be fitted with software to communicate with the power grid?

We should embrace this future and prepare.

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