Let the Chips Fall Where They May

The NMA Foundation presents The Car of the Future weekly feature:

In the past month, I have discussed on this blog the CAN Protocol vulnerability and the fact that researchers now believe that it is unpatchable. The CAN Protocol is the internal communication system that connects various smart areas of your car—brakes, airbags, etc. and the hack would create an autoimmune disease in your car to the point where the various parts would no long be able to communicate. Researchers now claim that the CAN Protocol or something similar will have to be rebuilt from the ground up and won’t be seen in any new cars in the next several years. This vulnerability only affects cars after 2003 and a hacker would need to have access to your car’s communication portal so the possibility of a cyberattack is fairly remote.

But this does bring up a bigger question—what other vulnerabilities are out there that everyday motorists don’t really have a clue about?  Semiconductor Engineering recently posted an article called How to Make Autonomous Vehicles Reliable. The article discussed the Advanced Driver Assistance Systems or ADAS which would generally detect animals, objects, and people in the road and would include other helpful driving assistance features such as help with parking, night vision, and collision avoidance.

ADAS involves a great deal of technology with some (sensors and cameras) having been field tested for years. The newer tech, advanced processors and intelligent software that continuously senses and collects data about the environment, now brings the ADAS systems an unprecedented level of complexity and integration. The data that is collected by the processors and software needs to be processed in real time. ADAS systems will eventually handle communications networking outside of the vehicle with vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) and vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications for connected and autonomous vehicles.

If every bit of data gathered needs to be used in real time, how do you increase reliability?

National Instruments Vice President George Zafiropoulos said this requires a very different approach to design. “As engineers, we guard-band around design. But if you guard-band everything, you stack up inefficiencies. If you decrease guard-banding with certainty of reliability and performance that would add huge value.”

A couple of definitions are needed here:

Guard-band according to Techopedia.com: “…is a narrow frequency range that separates two ranges from a wider frequency. This ensures that simultaneously used communication channels do not experience interference, which would result in decreased quality for both transmissions.”

Reliability is a measure of quality over time.

ADAS involves a great many different components and in order for ADAS to work reliably, the system needs to be simulated, tested as a system, and the data needs to be parsed at the highest level. Not just once but many times.

What can cause failure in an ADAS system (and failure starts with a fraction of second)—inexperienced software, and on the hardware side: power issues, electromigration (an electron problem), thermal, stress, electromagnetic compliance and even electrostatic discharge.

Let’s focus on the complexity of just the thermal issue for an ADAS system.  Thermal reliability of an ADAS chip-package-system (CPS) is considered mission critical by engineers. ADAS systems need to last 10 years plus under engine temperatures that can reach as high as 150 degrees Celsius.

Vice president and chief strategist for the semiconductor business unit at ANSYS Vic Kulkarni said, “Thermal reliability presents the toughest challenge because electronic systems under the hood cannot exceed the maximum operating temperature and are highly vulnerable to thermal-induced stress, and thermally aware electromigration effects.”

ARM’s director of advanced technology marketing Neil Stroud added, “Any system can experience faults that may be either permanent or transient. In an ADAS system, where the electronics are taking responsibility for driver safety, it is critical that these faults be detected and appropriate action taken to avoid a dangerous situation occurring, where it is for cameras, sensor function or actuation.”

The ADAS system needs to be correct the first time out for the safety of those who drive and ride in a vehicle whether it is connected, autonomous or assisted driving. This is a huge challenge for automakers and tech companies.

A simpler system, the CAN Protocol is currently vulnerable.  How can we be assured that the same fate awaits the more critical ADAS systems used on our future connected and autonomous vehicles?

What are your thoughts on the Car of the Future?  Would you ride in one? What would make you feel safe to ride in an autonomous vehicle?

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The NMA Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting your interests as a motorist and citizen through the multi-faceted approach of research, education, and litigation.  The Foundation is able to offer this assistance through tax-deductible contributions. 

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If you are interested in learning more about the Car of the Future check out the following NMA resources:

NMA Driving News Feed—Over 50 Car of the Future stories are placed each month in the NMA Driving News—the go-to source for all your driving news information from around the country.

NMA’s Flipboard Magazine called Car of the Future—Over 50 stories are placed each month in this magazine devoted to the Car of the Future.  Stories featured include future car politics, industry news and thought pieces.

Pinterest Boards

Follow the National Motorists Association on Pinterest Here OR

Follow individual Boards that have a specialized focus on the Car of the Future:

Car of the Future

Car sharing/Ride sharing Watch

Concept Cars

Connected Cars, Connected Cities

Driverless Cars

Electric Cars (EVs)

Flying Cars

Future of the Motorcycle

Hybrid Cars

Hydrogen Cars

Solar-Powered Cars

If you have an interesting story about the Car of the Future, please feel free to send us a link to the NMA Email address nma@motorists.org.

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