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Connected versus “connected” vehicle

Sunday, July 1, 2018 - 07:00
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A little over 100 years ago (1908 to be exact) Henry Ford’s original Model T was on the road and by 1913 they were rolling off the first moving assembly line. In 1925 Ford was producing a vehicle every ten seconds that cost $290, down from $850 in 1908. In 1920 nine million automobiles were registered in the U.S. and by 1929 that figure had risen to 26 million. This rapid adoption and expansion of automotive technology is similar to the way telephones have evolved. In 1881 there were 49,000 telephones; fast-forward to 1980 when 175 million telephones were in use in the U.S. In 2000 the Ericsson R380 was the first widely used mobile phone and it started the transition from land-line based phones to smartphones. Early smartphones were limited in capabilities and relatively expensive when compared to today’s offerings. In 2010, 62 million people were using smartphones in the U.S. and in 2018 that number reached 237 million.

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100 years ago cars and telephones did not have much in common. Today automobiles and smartphones are morphing into something new — the connected car.

In the past telephone and automobile technologies did not appear to have much in common, but today the automotive industry is entering a phase of significant innovation similar in scope to the popularization of the automobile as a personal transportation “device” a century ago. Over the next 10 years automobiles will morph into rolling smartphones that can access, consume and create information. Cars will share this data with drivers, passengers, public infrastructure and other vehicles. The predicted benefits are vast and could include a reduction in accident rates, lower emissions, shorter driving times improving productivity and on-demand, in-vehicle entertainment.

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Vehicle connectivity generally comprises functions and capabilities that wirelessly link automobiles to smartphones, services, and other vehicles. As such, a Connected Vehicle (CV) generally refers to one that is equipped with technologies and services that transmit and receive data via a wireless Internet connection. The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International has anticipated connectivity and automated driving being deployed along a continuum of functionality and has developed a scale to describe it. In late 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) adopted the SAE definition.

The SAE definition divides vehicles into six levels based on “Who Does What, When.” In general:

  • At SAE Level 0, the human driver does everything
  • At SAE Level 1, an automated system on the vehicle can sometimes assist the human driver to conduct some parts of the driving task
  • At SAE Level 2, an automated system on the vehicle can actually conduct some parts of the driving task, while the human continues to monitor the driving environment and performs the rest of the driving tasks
  • At SAE Level 3, an automated system can both actually conduct some parts of the driving task and monitor the driving environment in some instances, but the human driver must be ready to take back control when the automated system requests
  • At SAE Level 4, an automated system can conduct the driving task and monitor the driving environment, and the human need not take back control, but the automated system can operate only in certain environments and under certain conditions
  • At SAE Level 5, the automated system can perform all driving tasks, under all conditions that a human driver could perform them

Is Data Generated from Connected Vehicles Private?

In 2014 Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass) released a report called “Tracking & Hacking: Security & Privacy Gaps Put American Drivers at Risk.” The report details how 16 major automobile manufacturers responded to questions about how vehicles may be vulnerable to hackers, and how driver information is collected and protected. The responses from the OEMs indicated that many of their vehicles have fully adopted wireless technologies, like Bluetooth and wireless Internet access, but have not addressed the real possibilities of hackers infiltrating vehicle information. The report also detailed the widespread collection of driver and vehicle information, without privacy protections regarding how that information is shared and used. “We need to work with the industry and cyber-security experts to establish clear rules of the road to ensure the safety and privacy of 21st-century American drivers.” said Senator Markey. For CV technology to function safely, data communicated between vehicles and the infrastructure must be secure.

Most consumers recognize that if cars are connected in order to operate safely on the road that literally everything that takes place with, or in a vehicle will be captured digitally. Connected technologies will make possible safer, more convenient and entertaining cars but will also amass vast amounts of personal information about drivers. The temptation to track and profile potential customers will be a hard one to resist by advertisers who are more than willing to pay for this information. Just type “cat toys” (or anything) into an online search engine and ads for cat toys will populate ones Internet experience for months on end. In addition to annoying pop-up ads, a connected vehicle’s occupant’s personal and financial information could be at risk as well.

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