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Simplifying automotive OTA diagnostics with OTX and ODX

Simplifying automotive OTA diagnostics with OTX and ODX

OTA Diagnostics has changed the customer experience for vehicle owners and manufacturers alike. It has significantly enhanced the processes involved in diagnosing a problem and getting it fixed. But with newer tech, it is being refined and simplified further.

What to expect: In this article, we discuss the importance of OTA diagnostics and how you can simplify them with OTX and ODX.

What are OTA diagnostics?

OTA diagnostics refers to the ability of connected vehicles (or any connected device) to perform diagnostic procedures remotely via wireless communications. Rather than needing to plug into a physical port to download error codes or assess system performance, the EV can transmit this data over-the-air (typically using cellular, Wi-Fi, or other wireless communication systems) to a central server or platform.

In the context of connected vehicles, for example, this means potential issues with the battery management system, drive train, software glitches, or any other onboard system can be detected and analyzed remotely. This offers several benefits:

  • Proactive Maintenance: If the vehicle detects an issue, it can alert the driver or even the manufacturer before it becomes a severe problem.
  • Reduced Downtime: Some software-related issues can be resolved remotely without the need for the vehicle to visit a service center.
  • Continuous Improvement: By receiving diagnostic data from all connected vehicles, manufacturers can gain insights into common issues or areas for improvement, leading to better software updates or even improvements in future vehicle designs.
  • Enhanced User Experience: Owners can be kept informed about the health of their vehicle and potentially avoid breakdowns or performance issues.
  • Cost Efficiency: Remote diagnostics can lead to faster issue resolution, reducing warranty repair costs and increasing customer satisfaction.

However, while OTA diagnostics provide a wealth of benefits, they also introduce challenges related to data privacy, security, and the need for robust communication infrastructure to handle vast amounts of data.

A brief history of OTA diagnostics

The transition from traditional diagnostics to Over-The-Air (OTA) diagnostics in the automotive and other industries was driven by a combination of technological advancements and evolving market demands. Here’s a brief overview of the transition:

Technological Advancements

Connectivity: The proliferation of wireless and cellular technologies enabled vehicles and other equipment to connect to networks, facilitating the transmission of diagnostic data remotely.

Data Processing and Storage: Advancements in cloud computing and data analytics provided the necessary infrastructure for processing and analyzing the large volumes of data generated by modern vehicles.

Embedded Systems: The development of sophisticated embedded systems and sensors allowed for real-time monitoring and diagnosis of system performance and potential issues.

Market Demands

Consumer Expectations: As consumers became accustomed to the convenience of wireless connectivity and remote services in other domains, they began to expect similar capabilities in their vehicles.

Competitive Pressure: Manufacturers faced pressure to adopt OTA diagnostics to stay competitive, reduce warranty costs, and improve customer satisfaction.

Regulatory Compliance: Evolving regulations in some regions required manufacturers to adopt more advanced diagnostic systems to ensure compliance with emissions, safety, and other standards.

Industry Adoption

Automaker Initiatives: Some automakers led the way by incorporating OTA diagnostics into their vehicles, demonstrating the benefits and setting a precedent for the industry.

Standardization: Industry groups worked to develop standards for OTA diagnostics, which helped to accelerate adoption across the sector.

Service Networks: Service networks evolved to support OTA diagnostics, with service centers and technicians adapting to new workflows that incorporated remote diagnostic data.

Benefits Realization

Cost Reduction: OTA diagnostics helped to reduce costs associated with traditional diagnostic methods, such as the need for physical inspections.

Efficiency Improvements: The ability to diagnose and sometimes resolve issues remotely led to faster turnaround times and improved operational efficiencies.

Enhanced Customer Experience: Customers benefited from quicker and more convenient diagnostic services, improving overall satisfaction.

Continuous Improvement

Feedback Loops: The continuous collection and analysis of diagnostic data facilitated a feedback loop that enabled manufacturers and service providers to continually improve system performance and diagnostic capabilities.

This transition didn’t happen overnight but was a gradual process that evolved as technologies matured and the aforementioned factors coalesced.

Over-the-air tech has already improved the overall lifecycle of connected vehicles, but with compatible standards and technologies, OTA diagnostics are improving further. Two such standards are OTX and ODX. These are significant to the recent overhaul of connectivity in vehicles.

Understanding OTX and ODX

OTX (Open Test sequence eXchange) and ODX (Open Diagnostic data eXchange) are both standards related to vehicle diagnostics. They're part of an effort to standardize and simplify the way diagnostic data and test sequences are represented and exchanged, especially within the automotive industry. Here's a more in-depth look at each:

ODX (Open Diagnostic data eXchange)

Purpose: ODX is a data model or standard that describes the exchange of diagnostic data between automotive ECUs (Electronic Control Units) and diagnostic systems.

Content: It covers various diagnostic data such as error memory, parameters, and identification data. This means it provides a standardized way to represent fault codes, diagnostic routines, and more.

Benefits: By having a universal format, vehicle manufacturers, suppliers, and tool developers can work seamlessly. This reduces development effort, ensures compatibility between diagnostic tools and vehicles, and shortens time-to-market for new diagnostic functions.

OTX (Open Test sequence eXchange):

Purpose: While ODX deals with the exchange of diagnostic data, OTX is all about the sequences or procedures used for diagnostics. It's a format for describing and exchanging diagnostic test sequences.

Content: It describes sequences for complex diagnostic tasks. These might include things like ECU updates, guided fault finding, or other procedures that require a specific sequence of diagnostic operations.

Benefits: The idea behind OTX is to provide a standardized way of representing diagnostic procedures. This helps ensure that a diagnostic procedure developed for one diagnostic tool can be easily transferred to another tool or even to a different vehicle, as long as they all support the OTX standard.

While ODX and OTX are both related to vehicle diagnostics, ODX focuses on the actual diagnostic data (like fault codes) and OTX is concerned with the procedures or sequences used to diagnose and resolve those faults. Both standards play a significant role in modern automotive diagnostics, ensuring interoperability and efficiency in the development and application of diagnostic functions.

How do OTA diagnostics work?

Over-The-Air (OTA) diagnostics is a method used to remotely diagnose issues, update software, and monitor performance in vehicles or other types of machinery. Here’s a detailed breakdown of how OTA diagnostics work, focusing on data transmission, protocols, and data integrity:

Monitoring and Data Collection:

Sensors and embedded systems within the vehicle or machine constantly monitor various parameters and collect data.

The onboard diagnostic system processes this data to identify any potential issues or anomalies.

Initiation of OTA Diagnostics:

Once an issue is detected or a diagnostic check is initiated, the OTA diagnostic process begins.

The diagnostic data is packaged in a structured format like JSON or XML for transmission.

Data Transmission to Remote Server:

The packaged data is transmitted wirelessly via protocols such as MQTT, HTTP/HTTPS, or CoAP over cellular networks, satellite links, or other wireless channels to a remote diagnostic server or cloud platform.

Encryption protocols like TLS or SSL are used to ensure data integrity and confidentiality during transmission.

Remote Data Analysis:

The transmitted data is received at the remote server, where it is decrypted and verified for integrity using checksums or hash functions.

Automated diagnostic algorithms, and possibly human technicians, analyze the data to identify the issues and propose solutions.

Action Determination:

Based on the analysis, a determination is made on the necessary action. This could be an OTA software update to resolve the issue, or scheduling physical maintenance if required.

Feedback and Resolution:

If the issue can be resolved through a software update, the update is packaged, encrypted, and transmitted OTA back to the vehicle or machine, where it is installed to rectify the issue.

If physical maintenance is required, notifications are sent to the user or operator to schedule service.

The outcomes of the diagnostic process and actions taken are logged for future reference and continuous improvement.

Continuous Improvement:

The collected diagnostic data, along with feedback from the resolution process, is analyzed over time to improve the diagnostic algorithms and overall system performance.

OTA diagnostics is a complex, multi-step process that leverages modern communication technologies, data analytics, and cloud computing to provide remote diagnostic and maintenance capabilities, thus enhancing efficiency, reducing costs, and improving user satisfaction.

How do OTX and ODX help simplify OTA diagnostics?

ODX and OTX are instrumental in the realm of Over-The-Air (OTA) diagnostics because they provide standardized frameworks for the communication and execution of diagnostic operations. When combined with wireless communication capabilities, these standards can revolutionize how diagnostics are conducted. Here's how they contribute to OTA diagnostics:

Standardized Data Representation (ODX):

  • Remote Fault Detection: With ODX, vehicles can transmit standardized diagnostic data wirelessly, allowing centralized systems or servers to interpret the data without confusion due to differing data formats across vehicle makes or models.
  • Update Recommendations: Upon receiving and analyzing the diagnostic data, appropriate software updates or fixes can be identified and recommended or automatically pushed to the vehicle.
  • Real-time Insights: Manufacturers can get real-time data on the health and performance of their vehicles in the field, leading to faster response times for emerging issues and better long-term vehicle design improvements.

Standardized Diagnostic Sequences (OTX):

  • Remote Troubleshooting: Once a fault is detected, the appropriate diagnostic sequence can be initiated remotely using standardized OTX procedures. For instance, if a battery management system detects an anomaly, the correct OTX sequence can be triggered to assess the issue in-depth.
  • Guided Solutions: For issues that the driver or a technician might need to address physically, OTX can provide guided diagnostic procedures directly to the vehicle's interface, ensuring that the correct steps are followed.
  • Automatic Fixes: In some scenarios, once a problem is detected and diagnosed, an OTX sequence can be used to correct the issue automatically, without any human intervention, especially for software-related issues.

To put it simply, think of ODX and OTX like languages for cars:

ODX is like a dictionary for cars. Just like you use a dictionary to understand the meaning of words, cars use ODX to understand and explain any problems they might have. This means all cars can "speak" about their problems in a way that's easy for everyone to understand, no matter the brand or model of the car.

OTX is like a recipe book for fixing cars. If a car has a problem, OTX provides a step-by-step guide (or recipe) to solve that problem. So, no matter who's trying to fix the issue, they'll know exactly what to do, step by step.

Now, when we talk about "Over-The-Air" (OTA) diagnostics, imagine cars sending messages about their problems (using ODX) and receiving instructions on how to fix them (using OTX) all through the air, just like how your phone receives messages without any wires.

So, in simple words, ODX helps cars tell us what's wrong in a way we all understand, OTX gives clear instructions on how to fix it, and OTA means all this communication happens wirelessly, without the need for the car to be physically connected to anything!

Challenges in automotive OTA diagnostics

Let's break down some challenges in automotive OTA diagnostics and see how ODX and OTX help address them:

  1. Challenge: Diverse Data Formats

Problem: Different car manufacturers might represent diagnostic data in different ways. This can make it hard to create tools and systems that work for all cars.

Solution with ODX: ODX acts as a standardized "dictionary" for diagnostic data. No matter the car brand or model, if they use ODX, the fault codes and diagnostic data have a consistent format. This simplifies the development of diagnostic tools and ensures compatibility.

  1. Challenge: Complex Diagnostic Procedures

Problem: Some car issues require intricate steps to diagnose or fix. Having different procedures for each car model can be overwhelming for technicians or even automated systems.

Solution with OTX: OTX is like a "recipe book" that standardizes these procedures. If a car detects a problem, OTX provides a step-by-step guide to diagnose and possibly fix it. This ensures consistency in troubleshooting and can even allow for automated fixes in some cases.

  1. Challenge: Keeping Diagnostic Tools Updated

Problem: As cars evolve, their diagnostic needs change. Tools and systems need continuous updates to stay relevant.

Solution with ODX and OTX: Since both ODX and OTX provide a standardized foundation, updating tools becomes more straightforward. Instead of revamping entire systems, developers can adjust the specific ODX data or OTX sequences as needed.

  1. Challenge: Real-time Issue Resolution

Problem: Drivers expect immediate solutions when a car detects a problem. Traditional diagnostics might involve visiting a service center, which isn't always convenient.

Solution with OTA and OTX: With OTA diagnostics, cars can immediately communicate issues. If the problem is software-related, the right OTX sequence can potentially fix it on the spot, without a service center visit.

  1. Challenge: Ensuring Accurate and Comprehensive Diagnostics

Problem: Incomplete or incorrect diagnostics can lead to unresolved issues or even new problems.

Solution with ODX: ODX's standardized data ensures that every required diagnostic detail is communicated. It provides a comprehensive view of the problem, reducing the chances of oversight or misinterpretation.

  1. Challenge: User Trust and Understanding

Problem: Car owners might be wary of automated diagnostics or need help understanding the messages they receive.

Solution with OTX: Since OTX can guide users through problems and solutions in a standardized manner, it can provide clearer, more user-friendly instructions or explanations, enhancing user trust and understanding.

ODX and OTX play crucial roles in addressing the challenges of automotive OTA diagnostics by providing standardization, clarity, and efficiency in both understanding car problems and guiding their solutions.

  1. Challenge: Data Privacy and Security Concerns

Problem: As cars become more connected, the volume of data transmitted wirelessly has surged. This poses a significant risk related to data breaches and unauthorized access. Ensuring the privacy of the user's data and the security of the communication between the car and centralized systems is of utmost importance.

Solution with ODX and OTX: Both ODX and OTX offer a standardized framework for communication, which means that security measures can be more uniformly applied and updated. Implementing robust encryption and authentication protocols within the ODX and OTX standards ensures that data transmitted is secure and can only be accessed by authorized entities. By having standardized data formats and sequences, developers can focus on implementing high-grade security measures to safeguard against breaches. Moreover, with standardized diagnostics data, any anomalies or suspicious activities can be detected more easily, offering an added layer of protection.

Note: While ODX and OTX can provide a framework for enhanced security, it's crucial for manufacturers, tool developers, and other stakeholders to stay vigilant, continuously update their systems, and collaborate to address emerging threats in the rapidly evolving landscape of automotive cybersecurity.

Case studies

OTX and ODX play a crucial role in simplifying OTA diagnostics in the automotive industry. Companies like Sibros and KPIT have successfully utilized these technologies to streamline their diagnostic workflows and enhance efficiency.


Sibros has innovatively harnessed the power of ODX and OTX standards to revolutionize automotive OTA diagnostics. By integrating ODX files, they've established a system to remotely send commands to vehicles without physical access. Leveraging OTX sequences, they facilitate streamlined firmware updates over the air. With their cloud-based platform, including tools like the Deep Updater and Command Manager, Sibros automates the execution of diagnostic requests to any ECU in the vehicle, eliminating traditional bottlenecks, reducing costs, and offering continuous monitoring capabilities, all while enhancing the overall diagnostic process and user experience.


KPIT has pioneered an embedded diagnostic approach that addresses the automotive industry's challenges stemming from increased vehicle complexity. Utilizing ISO Standard specified infrastructure components, primarily ODX (Open Diagnostic Data eXchange) and OTX (Open Test Sequence eXchange), the approach crafts a data-driven architecture that facilitates remote vehicle diagnostics. This system comprises a Telematics Control Unit (TCU) that interacts with the diagnostic server, OTX sequences for automated diagnostic procedures, and ODX data for defining diagnostic information in an OEM-independent manner. Together, these components allow for seamless communication with the vehicle's ECU network, mirroring traditional service tools but enabling diagnostics from distant locations.

These examples demonstrate the practical applications of OTX and ODX, showcasing how they can simplify OTA diagnostics and improve overall efficiency in the automotive industry.

Over the next decade, several advancements and trends are expected to shape the future of Over-The-Air (OTA) diagnostics:

Integration of Advanced Technologies:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML): These technologies could further automate the diagnostic process, allowing for more accurate and faster issue identification and resolution.
  • Edge Computing: Edge computing could enable more efficient data processing closer to the source, reducing the need for data transmission and speeding up diagnostics.

Increased Security Measures: Enhanced security protocols and measures will likely be developed to safeguard against potential cyber threats as vehicles and machines become increasingly connected.

Standardization and Regulation:

  • Industry-wide standards for OTA diagnostics may emerge to ensure interoperability, security, and reliability.
  • Regulatory frameworks might evolve to guide the deployment and operation of OTA diagnostic systems, particularly in safety-critical areas.

Predictive Maintenance: The shift from reactive to predictive maintenance is expected to continue, with OTA diagnostics playing a key role in identifying potential issues before they become critical problems.

Expansion to New Sectors: OTA diagnostics could expand beyond automotive to other sectors like industrial equipment, healthcare devices, and home appliances, facilitated by the growing Internet of Things (IoT).

Improved Customer Experience: Enhanced user interfaces and better integration with mobile and web applications may provide users with more insight into the health and performance of their vehicles or equipment.

5G and Beyond Connectivity: The rollout of 5G and future wireless technologies will likely facilitate faster and more reliable data transmission, enabling real-time or near-real-time diagnostics.

Data Monetization: Companies might explore ways to monetize the vast amounts of data generated by OTA diagnostics, possibly leading to new business models and revenue streams.

Remote Software Updates and Feature Upgrades: Beyond diagnostics, the capability for remote software updates and feature upgrades will continue to evolve, providing a way for manufacturers to enhance and personalize the user experience over time.

Collaboration and Ecosystem Development: Collaborations between automakers, technology providers, and service networks will likely foster a more cohesive ecosystem around OTA diagnostics, benefiting both industry players and consumers.

These advancements and trends hint at a future where OTA diagnostics becomes more sophisticated, secure, and integral to maintaining and enhancing the performance and functionality of a wide range of machines and devices.

Final Thoughts

As we witness cars evolving with more advanced tech, it's essential that our diagnostic tools keep pace. This is where ODX and OTX really come into their own. These aren't just fancy acronyms; they're the backbone of modern, over-the-air diagnostics. Through these technologies, mechanics can remotely delve into a vehicle's systems, streamlining the diagnostic process. As vehicles continue to advance, embracing such tools is crucial to ensure timely and accurate service, wherever we, or our cars, might be.

If you would like to know how we leverage these technologies at Bytebeam, drop us a comment or an email, and we’d be happy to explain our processes in detail!