IoT's benefits bring security and architectural challenges
Developers in many industries are gearing up to turn passenger vehicles into nodes on the Internet of Things (IoT). Connectivity will bring many benefits to drivers and play an important role in autonomous vehicles, but many issues must be addressed before those gains are realized.
Joining the IoT helps both drivers and OEMs. Drivers can get all sorts of information about the areas around their routes, ranging from sales at stores to weather data. Automakers plan to profit by monitoring vehicle health and seeing how drivers use features.
Just providing the best values for car buyers and giving them the safest operating environment are huge chores. Technical architectures and security issues add to the complexity, according to panelists who examined IoT and mobility at SAE International’s WCX17 conference in Detroit.
Determining how to configure systems extends challenges beyond issues like distributed vs. centralized modules. Automakers may need to look beyond their traditional suppliers to learn how to use cloud computing to assist on-vehicle systems and collect diagnostic data.
“For some data, it makes sense to keep it on the vehicle to make decisions quickly,” said Nigel Upton of Hewlett-Packard Co. “Other data can go deep into the cloud. A lot of data is created every day. A fully autonomous vehicle will generate a terabyte of data in one day.”
Autonomous cars may eventually turn drivers into bored passengers who are searching for information and entertainment. Some may want to know whether it’s quicker to shift to public transportation, while others may want information on nearby stores and services. Connecting to clouds that have all types of knowledge will be critical.
“It’s not just about cars any more, it’s the environment around them, the Smart Cities,” said Bret Greenstein of IBM Corp. “Once people have more free time in the car, they’re going to ask more about what’s around them.”
Panelists concurred that a single company can’t build the right architectures. OEMs will have to partner with established companies and startups that address different segments of this complex connected hierarchy.
“For automakers, the IoT is about creating alliances and saving money,” said Elliot D. Garbus of Intel Corp.
Those alliances will become more complex as cloud connectivity helps the industry offer autonomous driving. Data from the cloud will help vehicles navigate without humans. It will also let them use artificial intelligence to learn about driving environments and program themselves. Most specialists agree that programmers can’t write code for all the decisions made while driving, so machines will have to learn about the environment and help program vehicle systems.
“Machine learning is really about using this data to program the vehicle,” Garbus said. “It provides the ability to recognize license plates and vehicles.”
When vehicles are linked to the cloud, security becomes paramount. All nodes on the IoT will become targets for hackers.
“When you think about product life cycles, it’s naive to think anyone can create a device that always remains secure,” Greenstein said.” Automakers need to be able to update devices to maintain security over the vehicle’s lifetime.”
He added that systems have to be able to be able to tell when a module has been compromised and prevent malware from attacking other systems. Suppliers typically focus on individual systems, but hackers examine the end vehicle’s vulnerabilities. OEMs need to take a holistic view and quickly spot modules that may be infected. Shutting them down quickly may be the fastest way to prevent further problems, he said.