What’s The Biggest Hurdle to Autonomous Cars? It’s Not What You Think

Building fully autonomous cars is hard. Securing them is even harder

Fully autonomous cars are an undeniable part in the future of transportation.  Ridesharing as we know it today will be gone tomorrow; replaced by self driving , connected, autonomous, not to mention kinda creepy looking vehicles.  I’m looking at you Waymo (Google’s Alphabet’s self driving project).

About as nerdy looking as the geniuses that designed it

This should not only have a dramatic effect on car ownership but also change the mindset on how we think about infrastructure and urban planning.  Ever stop and look around how many parking lots there are?  Think about if those could be converted to something more useful to human beings such as a park, mixed use development, an art gallery or even bike lanes.  This list goes on and on with how we can improve life by eliminating surface area for our vehicles.  The co-founder of Lyft, Logan Green, wrote this amazing article on what you can expect in a driverless car world.  You can read it here and it will literally blow your f***ing mind.   Seriously, do it.

When one begins to think of autonomous cars from concept to reality, the sheer thought of creating the logic, the technology and the regulations are simply brain numbing.  While there is still a lot of work to do in all of those areas, the one area nobody seems to talk about but should be our largest concern is actually SECURITY…and not in the sense of a seat belt.  Let me explain.

Cybersecurity for autonomous vehicles is going to be the biggest deterrent and hurdle to the mass proliferation of self driving cars.  Period. Think about it…can you imagine if Russian hackers can take control of your car, let alone thousands at once?? In fact, it’s already been done on a minor scale back in 2015 when two hackers took control of a Jeep Cherokee cascading down the highway and cut their transmissions as part of a research initiative. For the cherry on top, they tricked the car to think it was parking itself at a svelte 80 MPH.  Any guess what happened next? Chrysler recalled 1.4M vehicles

Sorry! Hope you don’t die while driving our piece of shit vehicles

How could this happen?

Without getting into technical jargon, autonomous cars have what are called ECU’s (Electronic Control Units) which as you might guess control the electronics of the car.  This could be anything from the Bluetooth capabilities to the brakes to the steering wheel.  These are all connected by an internal network within the car and are all prone to hacking considering there are many different manufacturers creating these ECU’s in a single vehicle. I think you can see where this might be going.  Add to the fact every car has a port where you could plug in an internet connected device (i.e. smartphone) and the possibilities really are endless.  Can you trust the person who was in your Uber previously?  What about when you left your car door unlocked?  These are real life scenarios that we need to address to prevent horrific scenarios such as unintended acceleration and elimination of braking ability.

Hey it’s just me Catherine and I’m about to unintentionally let hackers take control of the car because I def need to hear that new Katy Perry song while reading Buzzfeed on my two minute ride to get my Starbucks

 

However, it’s not all doom and gloom.  While the above scenarios are throwing a major wrench into the adoption of autonomous cars, particularly around how we regulate them for society, there are companies out there looking to address this problem.  The major ones are Argus Cyber Security, Towersec and Karamba aka the gatekeepers to ensuring we can rise about this threat and I’m sure many other millionaires will be minted as private money flows into this area.  Perhaps you are one of them!

The future of autonomous cars is sure to be exciting but like any new technology there will be hiccups, challenges and risks along with all the potential benefits reaped.  Let’s just hope this one gets fixed sooner rather than later so I don’t have to stare at any more parking lots.

 

 

 

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