A recent FCC filing suggest Tesla is working on a new vehicle access system. The system will leverage Ultra Wideband (UWB), which is essentially Bluetooth on steroids. This implementation would allow vehicles to automatically unlock without touch anything.
According to The Verge Telsa submitted six new products to the FCC for consideration back in September. The products include key fobs and other sensor type products that will be integrated into parts of the vehicle. Tesla’s filing included a full operational description, outlining that at least three of products are related to UWB. Describing some of the “products” in random parts of the vehicle is also a tell-tale sign this is a UWB implementation.
One of the hallmarks of UWB is multiple receivers. Multiple receivers are needed to triangulate the location of the endpoint, such as a key fob. The ability for a vehicle to geolocate the endpoint increases security and unlocks new possible functionalities. For example, the car could turn on the lights when the driver is 100-feet away, but unlock the door when two-feet away.
The fact Tesla is working on UWB access comes as no surprise. UWB is widely believed to be the long-term solution to digital car keys. A consortium of automakers are working on ratifying industry standards that leverage UWB for digital keys. Smartphone manufacturers such as Apple and Samsung are already placing UWB chips in their handsets.
It is worth noting that the Tesla FCC filing does include physical key fobs. This means the company isn’t planning on ditching the fob just yet, but one can assume UWB-enabled smartphones will be compatible as well.
Aside from Tesla, BMW has also confirmed plans to leverage UWB key fobs.