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Tesla FCC filings hint at ultra-wideband support for seamless, extra-safe vehicle access

(Credit: @m1chele86 via 329_photography/Instagram)

Documents filed with the Federal Communications Commission have hinted that Tesla may be looking to utilize ultra-wideband (UWB) technology for its vehicles, being one of the first automakers to do so. UWB, a technology that tech giants like Apple and Samsung have been developing, would allow car owners to unlock their vehicles without pulling their mobile device out of their pocket. 

Tesla submitted six new products for the FCC’s consideration on September 9th. These products included two key fobs, a security controller, and a number of “endpoints” that would be installed inside the frame and cabin of a vehicle. At least there of these products were specifically listed to support UWB communication

There are several noteworthy aspects in Tesla’s FCC filings. Tesla included a complete operational description of the technology, which revealed that it intends to adopt a standards-based implementation of ultra-wideband technology. This, to a point, suggests that UWB tech from devices like Apple and Samsung smartphones should be compatible, at least theoretically. The tech is also designed to let users know how far away one is from their vehicle. 

As noted in a report from The Verge, this “ranging” would be key in helping avoid replay attacks, which could trick a Tesla into thinking that its key fob is closer than it actually is. This is a point of attack that has been exploited by security researchers in the past, some of whom were able to gain access to a Tesla by spoofing the vehicle’s key fob system. Tesla’s security features like PIN to Drive were a response to these attacks. UWB may also support other uses, such as locating a vehicle in a crowded parking lot. 

Granted, Tesla’s FCC filings do not provide an assurance that ultra-wideband tech is indeed coming to its vehicles. However, it should be noted that FCC documents are typically a good sign that a company is fairly serious in rolling out new technology, with filings at times becoming one of a product’s final waypoints before it reaches the market. 

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Tesla FCC filings hint at ultra-wideband support for seamless, extra-safe vehicle access
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