A black PCB with a cellular modem board piggy backed on top. It has a micro-USB and DB-type connector on the end facing the camera.

Open Vehicle Monitoring System Is The Window To Your EV’s Soul

Electric cars have more widgets than ever, but manufacturers would rather you don’t have direct access to them. The Open Vehicle Monitoring System intends to change that for the user. [via Transport Evolved]

As car manufacturers hoover up user data and require subscriptions for basic features, it can be a frustrating time to make such a big purchase. Begun in 2011, OVMS now interfaces with over a dozen different EVs and gives you access to (or helps you reverse engineer) all the data you could want from your vehicle. Depending on the vehicle, any number of functions can be accessed including remote climate start or cell-level battery statistics.

The hardware connects to your car’s OBDII port and uses an ESP32 microcontroller connected to a  SIMCOM SIM7600G modem (including GPS) to provide support for 3 CAN buses as well as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections. This can be particularly useful for remote access to data for vehicles that can no longer phone home via their originally included cellular modems as older networks shut down.

Do you wish EVs weren’t so complicated? Read our Minimal Motoring Manifesto.

Your Car Is A Privacy Nightmare On Wheels

There was a time when a car was a machine, one which only came to life when its key was turned, and functioned simply as a way to get its occupants from point A to B. For most consumers that remains the case, but unfortunately in the last decade its function has changed from the point of view of a car manufacturer. Motor vehicles have become a software product as much as a hardware one, and your car now comes with all the privacy hazards you’d expect from a mobile phone or a computer. The Mozilla Foundation have taken a look at this problem, and their disturbing finding was that every one of the 25 major automotive brands they tested had significant failings.

Their quote that the cars can collect “deeply personal data such as sexual activity, immigration status, race, facial expressions, weight, health and genetic information, and where you drive.” had us wondering just exactly what kind of sensors they incorporate in today’s vehicles. But beyond mild amusement at some of the possibilities, it’s clear that a car manufacturer can glean a significant amount of information and has begun doing so largely without the awareness of the consumer.

We’ve railed about unnecessary over-computerisation of cars in the past, but from an obsolescence and reliability perspective rather than a privacy one, so it’s clear that the two issues are interconnected. There needs to be some level of public awareness that cars can do this to their owners, and while such things as this Mozilla investigation are great, the message needs to appear in more consumer-focused media.

As well as the summary, Mozilla also provide a detailed report broken down by carmaker.

Header: Michael Sheehan, CC BY 2.0.