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Autonomous cars drive toward reliability, security hurdles

02 Mar 2015  | Jim McGregor

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The third issue is security. The new generation of vehicles require cloud connectivity for navigation, emergency services, computer vision, entertainment and monitoring/reporting the status of the systems on the vehicle. With all the hacks that are occurring in other computing platforms, are these electronic vehicle systems safe and secure enough? The problem with any electronic system connected to outside servers is that it is inherently vulnerable to security intrusions. As a result, these systems must have various layers of security including physical security, such as having systems completely isolated, to hardware and software security. To be sure, the automotive industry understands this issue, but vehicle hacks have already occurred. This is an issue the automotive industry must address and quickly.

And finally, we have the of ownership costs. These systems are becoming increasingly complex. In addition, maintaining electronic and replacing electronic system in a car can be much more expensive than mechanical components. Will the average customer be able to afford an autonomous vehicle? In many cases, autonomous vehicles may drastically change the industry and its business models to the point where the average consumer no longer purchases a vehicle, but the cost of ownership will still have to be borne by someone.

So, while I am as enamoured as the next person with the slate of autonomous vehicles that are being displayed, many issues still need to be addressed before autonomous and even driver-assisted vehicles hit the road. Many of the advanced systems and vehicles being developed or shown today fail to address the safety, reliability, security and/or owner cost issues because of the mad rush to show something off to the public. In time, this will change, but it may push out the potential for such solutions well beyond the 2020 forecast of many of the automakers.

In full disclosure, I am a car buff who owns everything from classic muscle cars to newer hybrids. While I don't ever envision relinquishing the driving experience, I welcome the advancements in automotive technology.

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