The Evolution of Keyless Entry Systems for Cars
Published Date: 4th Apr 2023
Car keyless entry systems are a popular feature in modern vehicles. They offer drivers the convenience of unlocking and locking their cars without having to use a traditional key. Instead, they use a remote control or fob that sends a signal to the car, unlocking or locking its doors depending on the signal it receives. In this article, we will explore the history and development of keyless entry systems in the UK and chart the key events that have shaped this technology over the years.
The first keyless entry system was introduced in the United States in the early 1980s. It quickly gained popularity because it offered a convenient way to unlock and lock cars without fumbling for keys. However, early systems used radio waves to communicate with the car, making them vulnerable to hacking. Thieves could use a device to intercept the radio signal and unlock the car, which led to security concerns.
In the UK, keyless entry systems became available in 1985, but their adoption was slow due to concerns about security. However, by the 1990s, rolling codes were introduced, making keyless entry systems more secure. Rolling codes work by changing the code that is sent to the car every time the key is used. This makes it much more difficult for thieves to intercept the code and unlock the car.
Keyless entry became standard on most new cars in the UK in 2000, and car manufacturers have continued to improve and develop the technology since then. For example, some keyless entry systems now offer features such as remote start and remote trunk release, making them even more convenient for drivers.
However, the evolution of keyless entry systems has not been without challenges. In recent years, concerns have been raised about the security of some keyless entry systems, particularly those that use passive keyless entry (PKE) technology. PKE systems allow drivers to unlock and start their cars without having to take the key fob out of their pocket or bag. However, some PKE systems have been found to be vulnerable to relay attacks, where thieves use a device to amplify the signal from the key fob to the car, effectively tricking the car into thinking that the key fob is nearby.
Car manufacturers have been working to improve the technology to address these security concerns. For example, some manufacturers have added motion sensors to key fobs, which detect when the fob has been stationary for a certain period of time and switch off the signal to prevent relay attacks. Others have introduced biometric authentication, where the driver's fingerprint or face is used to unlock the car, providing an additional layer of security.
Despite these challenges, the keyless entry remains a popular and convenient feature for many drivers. It is also relatively affordable, making it a common feature in new cars. As technology continues to evolve, it is likely that we will see even more advanced keyless entry systems in the future.
In summary, keyless entry systems have come a long way since their introduction in the early 1980s. In the UK, keyless entry systems became available in 1985, but their adoption was slow due to security concerns. However, the introduction of rolling codes in the 1990s made keyless entry systems more secure, and they became standard on most new cars in the UK in 2000. Car manufacturers have continued to improve and develop the technology, adding features such as remote start and remote trunk release. While there have been some security concerns in recent years, car manufacturers are working to address these issues, and keyless entry remains a popular and convenient feature for many drivers.
- 1982 - French technology company Valeo introduced the first keyless entry system in the United States. The system uses a radio wave to communicate with the car and unlock its doors.
- 1985 - Keyless entry systems become available in the UK. Rover is one of the first car manufacturers to offer the technology on its vehicles. The system uses a radio wave to communicate with the car and unlock its doors.
- 1990 - Rolling codes are introduced, making keyless entry systems more secure. Rolling codes are a series of numbers that change every time the key fob is used. This makes it difficult for hackers to intercept the signal and unlock the car. Mercedes-Benz becomes the first carmaker to offer keyless entry as standard on one of its models, the S-Class.
- 1993 - Toyota introduces keyless entry on its luxury brand, Lexus vehicles. The system uses infrared technology instead of radio waves, making it even more secure.
- 1995 - General Motors introduced the first remote start system. This feature allows drivers to start their cars remotely, which is especially useful in cold weather.
- 1998 - BMW becomes the first car manufacturer to offer a keyless start system on its 7 Series model. The system uses a key fob that transmits a signal to the car, allowing the driver to start the engine without inserting a key into the ignition.
- 2000 - Keyless entry becomes standard on most new cars in the UK. The technology has become more affordable, making it accessible to more car buyers.
- 2003 - Audi introduces advanced keyless entry on its A8 model. The system uses a proximity sensor to unlock the car as the driver approaches it automatically.
- 2007 - Nissan introduces keyless entry and ignition on its luxury brand Infiniti. The intelligent key system allows the driver to unlock the car by touching the door handle and starting the engine with a push button.
- 2009 - Ford introduces MyKey on some of its models. The system allows the owner to program a key fob with restricted settings, such as a maximum speed limit and a limit on the car stereo's volume.
- 2011 - Keyless entry systems become increasingly sophisticated, offering features such as remote start and remote trunk release. Jaguar introduces the Smart Key System, which allows the driver to start the engine with the press of a button and remotely control the climate control and stereo system.
- 2013 - Tesla introduces the Model S, which features a key fob with a built-in touchscreen. The fob displays the car's status, including its battery level and charging progress.
- 2014 - Land Rover introduces gesture control for its keyless entry system. Drivers can unlock the car by waving their feet under the rear bumper.
- 2017 - Volkswagen is hit by a scandal in which it is discovered that its keyless entry systems are vulnerable to hacking. The company is forced to recall over 100,000 cars to fix the security flaw.
- 2018 - Thieves begin to use relay devices to hack keyless entry systems. These devices can amplify the signal from a key fob, allowing the car to be unlocked even if the fob is inside the owner's house. Car manufacturers respond by introducing new security features, such as motion sensors that detect when the key fob is being moved.
- 2020 - Many car manufacturers begin to phase out key fobs in favour of smartphone apps. These apps use Bluetooth technology to unlock the car and start the engine. The apps offer added convenience and can be easily updated with new features.
Keyless entry systems have become increasingly advanced throughout the years, with car manufacturers introducing new features and security measures. Today, most new cars come with a keyless entry system as standard.
UK Car Discount can help you find a brand-new car with Keyless Entry that meets your needs. Our team of experts can advise you in detail on your chosen vehicle's security systems so you can make an informed decision. Contact us today at 0161 946 3500 to learn how we can help you buy your next new car.