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The Intelligent Transportation industry continues to push forward into uncharted territory as professionals plan to implement and deploy connected and autonomous vehicles. It’s an exciting time if you think about the potential for saving 40,000 people a year with these lifesaving technologies, however, the panel all agreed, that everyone’s attention is on how to make these vehicles more cyber secure.

With recent headlines focused on semi and autonomous vehicles crashing, even though it’s often as the result of human error, legislators and the media are hyper focused on making these vehicles safe from hacking. Jason Goldman, Vice President of External Affairs & Stakeholder Engagement for the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) said the number one issue he deals with on all fronts are fears of cybersecurity, but a big question is how we help communities stay ahead of this growing threat.

Will Summerlin, Chief Executive Officer of Pinn, said that current infrastructure and legacy systems were not always built with security in mind and that the Internet was built to be an open way to communicate, but that allows bad actors to infiltrate the systems. He believes that we are at a unique point in time where we can build both the car and the infrastructure that connects to it from the ground up with security as the main priority.

Cars right now are horribly exposed since the controller area network (CAN) bus was made externally accessible in 1997, says Dr. Robert Bridges, a Research Mathematician that works on vehicle security research at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This is how high-profile professional security hackers have tested out their theories in the public spotlight. But he says data science can be used to help mitigate security risks by leveraging signals that are specific to each car and potentially installing fixed protocols into the vehicles.

Bryan Wells, Engineering Senior Manager at DENSO, stated that we need to be borrowing technologies from other industries like security certificates that banks use to keep money transactions safe. As we build these CAV systems we should look at predictive diagnostics as well as redundant systems that can detect when things are slightly off, and if that occurs, then a car can be placed into a certain standard mode that automatically seeks safety.

Summerlin followed that the parallel example is the aviation industry where all planes currently have redundant systems. As of right now, he isn’t aware of any catastrophic hacks to date, but because of past accidents, the airline industry has been heavily regulated by government which makes it horribly expensive.

While the costs of these connected and autonomous vehicle technologies and securities are very high now, over time, the panel agreed that they will come down. However, it still remains to be seen how much cost the insurance industry, OEMs and general public will be willing to bear for this ultimate safety.

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