Designing Next Generation Vehicle Communication with AWS IoT Core and MQTT - Designing Next Generation Vehicle Communication with AWS IoT Core and MQTT

Designing Next Generation Vehicle Communication with AWS IoT Core and MQTT

Publication date: September 22, 2021 (Document history)

This whitepaper outlines the best practices for implementing an extensible, scalable, and resilient communication architecture for the next generation of vehicles on Amazon Web Services (AWS). The existing vehicle architecture and communication mechanisms used to control vehicles remotely are reliant on technologies designed for other purposes and therefore not designed for the utmost reliability and efficiencies. With platforms available that support many-to-many MQ Telemetry Transport (MQTT) communication, which is also highly available and scalable, now is the time to start designing the next generation of vehicle communication architectures around a publish/subscribe mechanism.


The automotive industry is seeing a shift in the way consumers interact with their vehicles. This change is driving the growth of the connected car global market, which is projected to reach $225 billion by 2027. AWS is recognized as the number one connected car platform globally by ABI Research and as such, AWS is leading the next generation of designs that support the demands of the industry. We are seeing shifts in available use cases as automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and tier 1 suppliers begin to adopt these technologies for vehicle use. These adaptations are influencing the following:

  • The consumer’s connected experience, both in and out of the vehicle

  • Car-sharing/ride sharing services, enabling a new mobility vertical

  • Autonomous enhancements

  • Fleet management

In the automotive industry today, we see OEMs pushing for more revenue streams by adding remote services to some vehicle trims. The addition of these services allows for convenient monitoring of the vehicle from a smart phone, remote commands such as vehicle start or door unlock, and communication with roadside assistance and emergency services. Unfortunately, many of these services are built using the tools that were available at the time, such as short message service (SMS) and Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP), instead of designing technology for the connected car use case. The scope of this whitepaper is to present the changes in the industry and the opportunities that exist around the advancement in cellular connectivity, not to recommend a specific technology or module.

Most connected vehicle use cases are dependent on the vehicle being on and connected to a cellular connection provided by the local Mobile Network Operator (MNO). In most cases for remote services, the vehicle would be considered off and therefore lacking connectivity to receive commands from the cloud platform. With SMS shoulder-tap can wake the device as needed, so the cellular modem can go into a low-power mode and only respond when an SMS is sent from a backend platform. This SMS message is solely designed to wake up the telematic control unit (TCU) to indicate a remote command is waiting.

The TCU contains the vehicle’s embedded modem that wirelessly connects the vehicle to cloud services. The SMS message is a fire-and-forget and prone to being undeliverable, depending on the cellular coverage of the vehicle, which impacts the user experience. Additionally, HTTP is utilized to push telemetry data to the backend, which adds a lot of overhead because of its nature as request/response protocol. HTTP also additionally relies on a consistent network connection. This leads high utilization of the vehicle’s limited bandwidth, especially in scenarios where smaller messages have to be delivered at high frequencies.

The next generation of vehicles will demand a better user experience, especially from a safety and security point of view. The answer to this communication challenge is AWS IoT Core using the MQTT protocol.