Building and Modernizing Connected Vehicle platforms with Amazon Web Services IoT

by Andrew Givens and J. Lowry Snow | on


Amazon Web Services is excited to announce new and updated architectural guidance and design patterns for modernizing and building Connected Vehicle platforms with Amazon Web Services IoT . Today, automotive manufacturers (OEMs) are differentiating their portfolios, not just by the hardware and specs they offer, but also by the innovative, software-driven connectivity features they provide. With vehicle connectivity and the opportunity to gather vehicle data (telemetry), automotive companies are building and offering more advanced features, such as:

  • Software-defined vehicles (SDV) and over-the-air (OTA) updates that can improve vehicle features spanning the vehicle lifetime (e.g., autonomous driving)
  • Intelligent mapping and location services (smart parking, traffic prediction)
  • Vehicle geo-fencing (locating family members)
  • Infotainment and entertainment services (dynamic app store)
  • Enhanced driver support (sleepy driver alerts)
  • Vehicle security mode (event-based recording and live streaming from connected vehicle cameras)
  • Remote vehicle operations (remote car start, lock/unlocking vehicle, digital keys)

Connected Vehicle platforms enable and simplify the process of collecting and sending vehicle telemetry to the cloud, enabling Amazon Web Services services to gather, analyze, and act on ingested data. Automotive companies, such as Honda and WirelessCar , have adopted Amazon Web Services IoT for their Connected Vehicle platforms based on the performance, scalability, cost-effectiveness, and flexibility of the services. Many companies that maintain legacy vehicle platforms and on-premises technology stacks are modernizing their systems by moving to a cloud-native architecture, which allows them to offload responsibility for scalability, elasticity, and security of the underlying infrastructure to Amazon Web Services. In this post, we share how you can use services like Amazon Web Services IoT Core and Amazon Web Services IoT FleetWise as part of a modern Connected Vehicle platform architecture.

Benefits of an MQTT message broker

A message broker is central to a connected vehicle architecture because it provides bi-directional, secure communication between the vehicle fleet and the cloud. MQTT, the de facto standard for connected vehicle message brokers, allows for a persistent, always-on connection between the vehicle and the cloud. With intermittent connectivity (e.g., a vehicle traveling through an underground tunnel), MQTT effortlessly handles buffering, queuing, and synchronizing when vehicle connectivity is re-established. MQTT is an ideal communication protocol for connected vehicle platforms because it is lightweight and enables efficient communication with the cloud and decreased power consumption at the edge, utilizing persistent connections instead of request/response and multiple TLS handshakes that make other protocols more costly and less efficient (e.g., HTTP, etc.).

Amazon Web Services IoT Core offers a managed MQTT message broker that already supports hundreds of millions of devices connecting daily, obviating the need for automakers to worry about scaling, elasticity, or provisioning of compute infrastructure to meet peak demand. Amazon Web Services IoT Core easily scales and reliably handles millions of vehicles in your fleet, with multi-region capabilities and a pay-as-you-go utility pricing model. By migrating to managed Amazon Web Services IoT services, customers can reduce operational costs and the cost of third-party technology licenses. Amazon Web Services IoT Core is available globally, enabling customers to comply with local data storage, sovereignty, and privacy requirements. As a commitment to the uptime and availability of the service, Amazon Web Services provides a service-level agreement for Amazon Web Services IoT Core .

In the context of Connected Vehicle architectures, Amazon Web Services IoT Core provides the connectivity layer (an industry-standard managed MQTT message broker) that vehicles in regions around the world use to securely communicate with the cloud. The Amazon Web Services IoT Core MQTT broker enables an event-driven architecture utilizing a publish/subscribe mechanism. This communication protocol also allows vehicles to securely connect and communicate with other downstream Amazon Web Services services for cost-effective storage, on-demand high performance compute, a deep portfolio of machine learning services, and many other Amazon Web Services service integrations.

Amazon Web Services recently announced full support for MQTTv5 , which will unlock even more connected vehicle use cases. With MQTTv5, there are several new features that apply to connected platforms, including:

  • Flexibility in companion app development with Message Expiry and Request/Response options
  • More powerful device messaging with Protobuf support and user properties
  • Shared subscriptions for more easily scaling ingest-processing applications
  • Improved resource management with a topic alias feature and session expiry

With these new MQTTv5 features, many customers are migrating their existing in-production MQTT message brokers, hosted on-premises or with third party solutions, to Amazon Web Services IoT Core for a managed MQTT service. This retains feature parity with their current platform, and saves money and engineering time by reducing the operational overhead of managing the infrastructure themselves.

Modernizing existing Connected Vehicle platforms

Amazon Web Services recently published a new set of reference architectures  for building Connected Vehicle platforms with Amazon Web Services IoT, focusing on demonstrating the ease of migrating to Amazon Web Services IoT Core while keeping existing vehicle configurations static to minimize risks associated with modernizing in-production legacy platforms. With the newest MQTTv5 features, OEMs can avoid vendor lock-in and migrate to a managed MQTT message broker by seamlessly updating their current connected vehicle workloads and switching their ingest endpoints to Amazon Web Services IoT Core (as long as the existing platform adheres to and properly implements the MQTT 3.1 or MQTTv5 specification). This enables OEMs to modernize their current message broker and provides easy access to other Amazon Web Services services (storage, compute, machine learning, analytics, visualization tools, etc.).

AWS Connected Vehicle Architecture - Modernization

Figure 1: Amazon Web Services Connected Vehicle Architecture – Modernization

The Modernization reference architecture provides high-level guidance for the most common features within Connected Vehicle platforms. It is not required to implement all use cases or features listed in the architecture. Instead, it is intended to illustrate the power of MQTTv5 with Amazon Web Services IoT Core, providing best-practice technical guidance and repeatable design patterns. To implement the reference architecture, a basic assumption is that the vehicle is (or will be) provisioned to securely connect to Amazon Web Services IoT Core using mTLS, MQTT, and proper crypto libraries (e.g., OpenSSL libraries that support the necessary requirements for connecting to Amazon Web Services IoT Core). Migrating the MQTT message broker to Amazon Web Services IoT Core allows the publish and subscribe mechanisms in the existing vehicle platform to work as-is. To complete the migration, logic within the cloud is updated and configured to process data payloads sent from the vehicle.

At Amazon Web Services re:Invent 2022, Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America presented their approach to message broker modernization, describing how they migrated millions of vehicles to Amazon Web Services IoT Core to reduce the complexity of their message broker implementation and to reduce costs.  For them, the modernized publish/subscribe architecture provides better observability on a per-vehicle basis for troubleshooting, debug, and trace functionality. With a streaming architecture and updated message broker, they can separate telemetry collection from command/control operations, allowing for quicker iterations on production workloads and seamless integration with other downstream Amazon Web Services services such as Amazon Kinesis.

With this approach to message broker modernization, OEMs can start their migration to Amazon Web Services IoT Core with a few simple steps, providing immediate impact and value to the operation, observability, and scalability of their connected vehicle platforms.

Building new, next-generation Connected Vehicle platforms

For OEMs, autonomous vehicle startups, or telematics solution providers that set out to build a new, next-generation connected vehicle platform with MQTTv5 and Amazon Web Services IoT Core, or want to extend their existing Amazon Web Services IoT Core platform with new MQTTv5 features, we have published a new Connected Vehicle reference architecture that highlights the key elements and features of a connected platform. This is a best-practice design or blueprint for building a next-generation connected vehicle platform with Amazon Web Services IoT and related Amazon Web Services services, demonstrating the art of the possible with a modern, cloud-native approach.

AWS Connected Vehicle Architecture

Figure 2: Amazon Web Services Connected Vehicle Architecture

The architecture starts in the vehicle with components that are necessary to securely connect the vehicle to the cloud with Amazon Web Services IoT Core and Amazon Web Services IoT FleetWise. For communication with Amazon Web Services IoT Core, mutual TLS (mTLS) authentication is a requirement with an X.509 certificate and private key.  Amazon Web Services provides an IoT SDK that can be customized and integrated within a connected vehicle software stack, or the customer can build and deploy their own custom MQTT client if that is a preferred path. To connect to Amazon Web Services IoT Core, Amazon Web Services does not require or mandate any specific software be deployed to the vehicle.  To include Amazon Web Services IoT FleetWise in a connected platform, Amazon Web Services provides an open source, lightweight Amazon Web Services IoT FleetWise Edge Agent that can be downloaded from GitHub. The FleetWise Edge Agent will decode signals from the vehicle CAN bus and send data to the cloud based on conditions and events, working in conjunction with the Amazon Web Services IoT FleetWise service in the cloud to store data, take actions, and distribute data that is sent to your Amazon Web Services account.

For multi-region deployments, Amazon Web Services has a simple design pattern that uses Route53 geo-location routing that identifies the closest broker the vehicle should communicate with, based on rules that are customer-configured to govern how a vehicle should connect to the cloud infrastructure. We also provide guidance about dynamic topics and subscriptions that can be used as a bootstrap configuration for the vehicle when first connecting to Route53.

Amazon Web Services IoT FleetWise is the first Amazon Web Services service purpose-built for the automotive industry, using a cloud-first approach to model the vehicle and deploy data collection campaigns with those models. This removes the undifferentiated lift of writing and maintaining a data logger or other data collection mechanism, as Amazon Web Services IoT FleetWise works alongside and in collaboration with Amazon Web Services IoT Core, using the same authentication mechanism as Amazon Web Services IoT Core to aggregate and send data to Amazon Web Services.


The guidance in the new IoT reference architectures is intended to demonstrate and provide guidance and best-practices to Amazon Web Services customers and partners that are building Connected Vehicle platforms with Amazon Web Services IoT, and is not meant to be an all-encompassing, monolithic architecture that must be deployed without modification. The architectures are intended as blueprint starting points for discussion, brainstorming, and foundation for architecting a modern, next-generation connected vehicle platform that is optimized for long-term operation and maintainability throughout the vehicle lifecycle. For more prescriptive guidance beyond the technical architectures, we recommend referring to the Amazon Web Services IoT for Automotive workshop or the Amazon Web Services Whitepaper ‘ Designing next generation vehicle communication platforms on Amazon Web Services IoT Core’ . We also encourage customers to contact their Amazon Web Services account teams to schedule brainstorm and other technical sessions, inviting Amazon Web Services subject matter experts to help design an optimal Amazon Web Services architecture that best meets your business and technology requirements.

Andrew Givens

Andrew Givens

Andrew is an IoT Specialist at Amazon Web Services. Based in Atlanta, he helps global automotive customers build their connected vehicle solutions on Amazon Web Services IoT. With deep experience in the automotive industry, he has a particular interest in extensible, scalable, vehicle communication platforms on Amazon Web Services.

Lowry Snow

Lowry Snow

Lowry is a Principal Worldwide GTM Lead for IoT and Connected Vehicles at Amazon Web Services. Based in Salt Lake City, Lowry has been leading go-to-market efforts on the Amazon Web Services IoT team for the past five years, with a focus on helping customers build and modernize connected vehicle platforms with Amazon Web Services services.