Cars are still take many human lives but have become an essential part of human life. That technology will make this safer and thereby reduce the number of deadly accidents, through advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) or through even autonomous driving, is indeed good news. However, one needs to be aware of issues which are still yet to be resolved.
There is much excitement about the electronics and in car-networks in the latest electric cars. It is also important to remember that cars running on internal combustion engines, which constitute most of the cars still sold, also are very dependent on similar electronics and networks. Unlike the electric cars, the latter are still pretty much based on legacy networks.
Imagine a small to medium enterprise with a 100 PCs, all networked in one way in a closed system. Then imagine that there are some Apple PCs, some Windows PCs and even some game consoles like Playstation, Xbox. The imagine that not all of them have the latest version of operating system: some have Win95, Windows 7, OS9. Some of these are also connected together using legacy cables and switches. Many of these do not have any updated virus protection since they never were intended be connected to the internet.
All of a sudden they need to connect to the internet. This is in a sense what happened to cars when they were “required” to become intelligent. No one thought that people would pay money to get data generated between your brake pedal and the wheel or that someone would attempt to remote control it to take over driving your car.
It is key to understand that smart cars without cyber-security are not safe. The trend towards connected cars and autonomous driving is inevitable but better not to become a guinea-pig for the industry.
With the advent of the connected vehicle, car cyber security, autonomous driving, my company hosted a conference to engage OEM and tier-1 customers, partners and specialized media to give thought to all the potential technical and engineering challenges, issues with the hope of finding solutions. We managed to land great speakers from industry as well as the government. We were very satisfied to find out that we were sold out.
We were however hit with a surprise. The attendee list had a very large number of attendees from the insurance industry, especially given the specialized focus of the event.
It is relatively clear that autonomous driving was a threat to business loss if the number of cars were to decrease in the future. However, more interesting was the other concerns that surfaced:
Clearly the potential across industries for disruptions of IoT is larger than what meets the eye initially.
Last time I was at CES was back in 2013. I remember a neat laser car headlight demo in the North Hall by a European car manufacturer. I distinctly remember this as this as the rest of the hall was mostly audio entertainment and other specialized aftermarket car products. The impression was that CES was no longer the show case event of years past but that it was still a useful gathering place.
Skip to January 2016. The North Hall was now bulging with the who’s who of the automotive world with car manufactures, tier-1 ECU vendors and selected component vendors who morphed into systems software players. Despite the dominance of the car vendors, it was distinctly different from those car shows in Frankfurt or Detroit as it did not display cars per se but was redefining what kind of services cars could offer customers.
Also noteworthy were the entire new halls devoted to smart heath and wearable devices. The main hall was redefining the household appliance by making it smarter: smart TV of course but smart washing machines, smart fridges, smart everything.
In the short three years, my take was that CES had morphed from a latest and greatest gadget showcase to a demonstration platform of gadgets that enable services connected through the internet. The electronics is no longer center stage. Welcome to the new reality.