FCC filing suggests Tesla may integrate UWB digital key into future rides

No matter what vehicle brand you own today, chances are you have to press a button on a keyfob or the door for it to unlock. Some vehicles still use a traditional metal key. What would be much more convenient for vehicle owners is car doors and ignitions that simply work without needing a fob or other type of physical key. A new FCC filing suggests that Tesla is eyeing a future model that will integrate UWB, eliminating the need for key fobs or keys altogether.

The FCC listing shows that on September 9, Tesla submitted six new products for consideration. Two of the products were key fobs, and one was a security controller, along with several endpoints installed inside the vehicle's frame. The FCC filing shows several of those products support UWB communication.

One of the more interesting things about the FCC filing is that in it, Tesla gives a complete operational description of the technology. This description is notable because it's typically redacted in public documents. While we can learn from the operational description is that Tesla is using a standards-based implementation of UWB.

By using a standard-based implementation, other devices, such as smartphones from Samsung, Apple, and others, should be directly compatible with Tesla's technology. The tech is specifically designed to know how far away from your car you are. The ranging feature is important because it improves security and avoids replay attacks that trick the car into thinking the user is closer to the vehicle than they are.

Ranging would also help users find the car in a crowded lot using their phone. The FCC filing shows that the test uses a fully integrated single-chip Impulse Radio Ultra Wideband low energy and low-cost transceiver. The tech can be used in two-way ranging or TDOA systems to locate assets with precision down to 10 centimeters with data transfer rates of up to 7.8 Mbps.