Connected Cars Need to First Get Connected

Connected cars will likely happen long before autonomous vehicles (AVs) are fully adopted.

Not only will automakers need to master the nuances of V2X (vehicle-to-everything), the industry will also need to adopt standards that every automaker uses along with city and state governments. These standards not only will need to be robust but also protect the privacy of individuals and organizations that use these connections to move people and goods.

V2X essentially is a protocol that allows vehicles to communicate with other connected things around them such as other vehicles, street furniture (i.e. intersection lights, traffic cameras and parking meters) and other important elements needed by an AV such as lane markers and signage. To be successful, information to the vehicle must be relevant, accurate and cannot be acquired in any other manner. Interoperability without interruptions is critical.

The first hurdle in this fast-moving connected world is to make a decision on a single radio frequency standard to bring V2X network online. Up until recently, dedicated short-range communication (DSRC), variation of the Wi-Fi standard, seemed to be the front runner. The rise of C-V2X, a new kind of cellular tech, has now challenged the notion of DSRC. If you are interested in the pros and cons of both protocols, I encourage you to read this article from Digital Engineering called The V2X Standards Faceoff. Now with 5G on the horizon, a new discussion is unfolding on which radio frequency will be used.

IEEE Spectrum recently posted an article concerning the Six Key Connectivity Requirements of Autonomous Driving. The list reiterates safety and security above all.

1)      Networked-based structures will require redundant, real-time architectures
2)      High-speed data demand will increase exponentially
3)      V2X will require safe and reliable external connectivity
4)      AV driving quality and reliability are non-negotiable
5)      EVs will need a new approach to safety to avoid electromagnetic interference
6)      Miniaturized solutions will be needed in order to fit V2X systems under the hood

Both Ford and Volkswagen are working towards vehicle standards…but there is more than just vehicle data to worry about.

The Berlin, Germany based International Working Group on Data Protection adopted new recommendations this year to protect privacy as cars become more connected. The Working Group recommended that car sensors should not store personal data of anyone outside the vehicle and drivers should be allowed to opt out of non-essential data collection, minimizing personal data mining.

Late last year, the Electronic Privacy Information Center or EPIC called on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or NHTSA to create national standards for connected cars.

Connected cars and V2X is an important feature for driverless cars and all of this needs to be figured out before any cars that are supposedly connected and/or driverless hit the streets and highways. Unfortunately, that could already be this year based on an announcement this week from the Trump administration.

This looks like this is happening whether anyone is really ready or not.

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