Volvo and Mack Over The Air Updates now allow drivers to begin powertrain software updates at times that fit their driving and rest schedules. Photo: Jack Roberts -

Volvo and Mack Over The Air Updates now allow drivers to begin powertrain software updates at times that fit their driving and rest schedules. Photo: Jack Roberts

Volvo and Mack detailed the latest advances in their Driver-Initiated Over The Air powertrain updates during the 2020 Annual Meeting of the American Trucking Associations' Technology & Maintenance Council in Atlanta, Georgia.

Over The Air Updates is a remote software that enables customers to activate their software updates on their own schedule 24/7 while also improving uptime, according to Stu Russoli, Mack highway product manager.

Mack and Volvo announced earlier this month a new suite of Remote Programming services. The two companies said the services allow drivers and decision-makers to update parameters and software that enhance the performance of a truck’s engine, transmission and aftertreatment system. 

At TMC, Mack and Volvo shared more information on the services with trucking reporters, including the new Driver Display Activation.

Ash Makki, North American product manager, Volvo Trucks, explained that the Over The Air Updates now alert drivers when a system update is available. The alert, which appears in the center cluster of a Volvo or Mack dashboard, informs the driver as to what the system will be updated and how long the update will take. The majority of updates now take less than 15 minutes, due to the “maturity” of the current generation of Volvo and Mack powertrains. “Most of our powertrains are now refined to the point where lengthy, major system updates are no longer necessary,” Makki said.

If the driver is in a situation where he or she cannot initiate the programing update, the system gives them a 28-hour window to do so, with an “Update” reminder icon flashing each time the truck is started up. The icon also displays constantly in a “background” setting on the dash panel while the truck is in service.

When the driver decides to initiate the update, Makki noted, Over The Air Updates sends a series of messages, repeating the amount of time required to complete the update and confirming that the driver does wish to proceed at that time. “As with any programming updates, we don’t want it to be interrupted once it starts,” Makki explained. “So we take extra messaging steps to make sure the driver is ready to begin the update and has ample time to allow it to finish.”

One important feature that both Russoli and Makki emphasized is a new password-confirmation screen that can shift the initiation command from the driver back to fleet managers. “We understand that some fleets will prefer to have control up the software updating process,” Russoli said. “If fleet managers opt for the the password confirmation screen, then a driver cannot initiate an Over The Air Update until they have received the proper password and can proceed.”

According to Russoli, Mack Over The Air allows remote software updates and the setting of vehicle parameters through the OEM’s Mack GuardDog Connect integrated telematics solution. Available beginning in the fourth quarter of 2020, the new driver-activated updates eliminate the need for coordination phone calls with Mack OneCall agents, meaning most updates can be completed in less than 15 minutes.

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