As the world becomes increasingly connected, everything is becoming smarter and this also includes automobiles. According to Gartner, there will be about a 220 million connected cars on the roads by the year 2020. This really doesn’t come as a surprise as the connected car market is already growing at a compound annual rate of 45% (about 10 times faster than the traditional car market).

It’s a key characteristic of the Internet of Things (IoT) to come, but getting there will be highly complex. Connectivity will make telematics, vehicle data analytics, and infotainment possible and will make the time spent inside a vehicle more productive. However, all this connectivity presents significant challenges for engineers to make vehicles that are not only safe and secure but also reliable.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

With drivers having so much access to information and web content, driver safety becomes paramount. Further, the data generated needs to be protected. Further, there are also potential problems that could arise from faulty connected cars:

  • Failure of sensitive hardware (in harsh weather)
  • Signal loss/interruptions
  • Connection interruptions
  • Display malfunctions

Connected car hacking isn’t something that’s going to occur in the future, it’s already happened. Last July, hackers proved that they could hack into a 2014 Jeep while it was being driven and that led to a major recall of 1.4 million vehicles. Even Tesla’s Model S didn’t stand a chance against researchers who managed to hack into it. This is a serious issue, but according to a study conducted by IDC and Veracode, it will probably take about three years to get connected vehicle technology secure.

The auto industry and tech startups are already working on it, but it will take some time to develop secure solutions. The key point to consider at the juncture is the fact that security needs to be considered before the build and not after. Security needs to be built into the system right from the beginning as it essentially ensures safety (and cannot be added as a single feature in a complex system).

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Key elements of a secured connected car are as follows:

  • Architecture
  • Applications
  • Connectivity
  • Hardware
  • Software (including updates)

Even the Government is Involved!

The slow pace of the industry to make cars secure has also got then government involved. American Senators have proposed the “Security and Privacy in Your Car Act” (SPY CAR) which will require all vehicles sold in the US to meet specific security standards against cyber-attacks and privacy. The new digital security and privacy standards will be set by the Federal Trade Commission and the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration.

So how do you Ensure Security and Reliability of a Connected Car?

According to the American computer-aided engineering software developer ANSYS, a lot of it comes down to physics. Manufacturers need to ensure the reliability of hundreds of sensors. During the life-cycle of the car, these sensors will face a massive variety of operating conditions that manufacturers need to consider and find solutions to. Further, antenna physics (design and placement) will also come into play as radiation patterns will impact connectivity.

Anyone with a computer will be aware of numerous software bug and glitches. Since safety and reliability depend on it, there needs to be comprehensive validation and verification of automotive software (along with lifetime management).

A car is far more challenging than other electronic devices like your laptop or smartphone as it operates in harsher conditions. Further, when you spend a large chunk of money on a car, you expect it to last much longer. So security, safety, and reliability will depend on durability.

ANSYS believes that their engineering simulation platform is the key to resolving the variety of challenges faced by the industry. The simulation will essentially allow manufacturers and suppliers to test vehicle systems virtually with fundamental physics and precision. It has the potential to reduce costs, development time, and government fines.

It’s a great way to test ideas and equipment to see what could possibly go wrong, but it’s yet to be seen if simulation alone will cover all aspects of security and reliability.

The auto manufacturing industry still has a long way to go and it will be interesting to see if they manage to overcome these paramount challenges in the next few years. Connected cars will also have driverless features, so it is imperative that these issues are resolved sooner rather than later.

In your option, what other steps does the automotive industry need to take to ensure security and reliability? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below or send us a tweet to @Intersog!

Andrew Zola is a freelance writer, designer, and artist working in branding and marketing for over ten years. He is a contributor to various publications with a focus on new technology and marketing.

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