How should autonomous vehicles handle privacy?

By Catherine
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By Catherine Bolgar

The development of autonomous vehicles raises a host of questions about data collection. Some of the issues may arrive as vehicles incorporate more automated systems and become connected to each other and to infrastructure—before they are fully autonomous. Here are some questions likely to arise.

 

What kind of data might be gathered about vehicles’ movements? By whom?

Fleet operators would likely have some data on their customers, just as the current ride-sharing services already do, says Kara M. Kockelman, professor of engineering at the University of Texas-Austin. “If I order a car, I will have to have a credit card on file for trip charges,” she says. “People already are giving that information up.”

Worries about unauthorized credit-card data replication would be the same as for current car services.

Insurers may want to collect or have access to data to establish liability in case of a crash, to determine weather or road conditions or whether the technology malfunctioned. California law requires autonomous vehicle makers to have a way to capture and store sensor data for at least 30 seconds before a collision and to keep it for at least three years after an incident.

California also requires that autonomous car makers disclose to buyers what information is collected by the technology on the vehicle, although it doesn’t specify whether the data would be gathered by the manufacturers, government agencies or private companies, or a combination.

For example, “location data, such as the day and time, and which road you’re driving on, would be valuable for transportation planning and understanding where the traffic is,” says Frank Douma, director of the state and local policy program at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.

A company collecting the data might want to sell it – already a common practice. “People are probably clicking through consent agreements far too quickly and don’t know if the company will share or sell the information,” Mr. Douma says.

People are putting their information on the open market without realizing it.”

Theoretically, home thieves could tap the data to monitor when occupants have left, but the experts say that’s probably more complicated than what burglars do now, which is just watch target houses in person.

Autonomous vehicles will use many kinds of sensors and technology, such as cameras, radar, LIDAR and GPS. Regulators may allow a vehicle’s GPS to keep track of itself but not share it with anybody, or to change identifiers, to preserve anonymity, Prof. Kockelman says.

The technology for connecting vehicles to each other, called connected car or dedicated short-range connection (DSRC), is under review by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). DSRC would use a bandwidth exclusively reserved for vehicle-to-vehicle communication.

DSRC technology “has built into it anonymization of information,” Prof. Kockelman says. “One vehicle will transmit to other vehicles its speed or whether the brakes go on, but it won’t identify itself as a particular vehicle owned by a particular person.”

 

Will autonomous vehicles be safe from hackers?

While autonomous vehicles are expected to be safer than human drivers, cybersecurity is a concern, as demonstrated by hackers who already have taken control of cars through existing connected systems.

“DSRC is important because it’s much more privacy-protected and secure than if the data were sent over the Internet,” says Dorothy Glancy, law professor at Santa Clara University School of Law in California. “It’s a dedicated network, a closed Internet of vehicles instead of the Internet of Things. That’s the debate right now: whether everything should be connected to everything else.”

Global Automakers, a worldwide industry group, created an Information Sharing and Analysis Center to assess cybersecurity in vehicle electronics. In addition, the European Automobile Manufacturers Association has agreed on secure principles of data protection for connected vehicles and services.

 

Who will update the maps?

One of the ways autonomous vehicles know where to go is through digital maps. It still isn’t known whether maps will be updated in real time—the way GPS applications currently readjust routes according to traffic conditions or construction work—or hourly or daily, or a combination.

A missed update could theoretically send an autonomous car into a construction zone, though some autonomous vehicles already are able to handle hand signals and flashing arrow signs. The bigger risk is likely to be bad weather conditions, such as snow, that cover lines on the road.

A consortium of European car makers acquired a digital map company that uses wireless transmissions to and from vehicles for updates. Other companies also have advanced mapping capabilities, protected by patents and trade secrets.

“Policymakers want these companies to get together and pool their information. In fact the very first item in the new ‘Federal Automated Vehicles Policy’ Vehicle Safety Assessment is ‘Data Recording and Sharing,’” Prof. Glancy says. “One of the features of the NHTSA guidance is for vehicle manufacturers to share vehicle performance data. Moreover, there’s no reason why you have to have two or three companies collecting the same information on the same roads. You want the most accurate and the most timely for all autonomous vehicles. Will that be a public function? Will it be done by municipalities or states? Will there be sharing across state lines? Who will hold the pool of mapping data?”

Like the autonomous vehicles themselves, answers to these questions remain largely a work in progress. Many stakeholders are working hard to enable the answers, especially on the technology that will connect autonomous cars with infrastructure and make mobility far safer.

 

Catherine Bolgar is a former managing editor of The Wall Street Journal Europe, now working as a freelance writer and editor with WSJ. Custom Studios in EMEA. For more from Catherine Bolgar, along with other industry experts, join the Future Realities discussion on LinkedIn.

Photos courtesy of iStock

3DEXPERIENCE at Hsin Chong

By Alyssa
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Facing strong competition in the automotive parts manufacturing industry, Taiwan’s Hsin Chong group wanted to differentiate themselves by providing customers with a complete solution that is reliable, effective and cost-efficient.  The underpinning of this goal was to effectively integrate the information and resources from its 20 manufacturing sites and offices worldwide, and find a solution to manage the massive amounts of data involved in their business, especially in its bidding processes.

Hsin Chong wants its customers to perceive them as a strong, trusted partner who leverages cutting-edge technology in order to offer reliable, effective and cost-efficient projects.  To help fulfill this vision, they evaluated a range of tools, ultimately selecting the 3DEXPERIENCE platform from Dassault Systèmes.

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The company also selected the applications CATIA, ENOVIA and SIMULIA for design, R&D, verification, analysis and simulation, as well as the Bid to Win industry solution experience.  Bid to Win helps Hsin Chong further improve their data collection, cost estimation and bidding processes – all areas valued by customers to give them a better experience with the company.

Through the 3DEXPERIENCE platform and other Dassault Systèmes solutions, Hsin Chong has thus far been able to cut post production engineering changes by 30%.

Discover more about Hsin Chong’s implementation in a new case study.

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Immersive car buying experiences with DS Automobiles

By Alyssa
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DS Automobiles, the luxury division of PSA Group, has a mission: develop an end-to-end digital system of communication, distribution and sales that allows them to present their entire product line via immersive experiences and to know their customers in great detail to anticipate their needs and desires.

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Launched in early 2015, the company is all about embracing the digital world; they even broadcast their brand launch press conference live on Facebook. At the 2016 Geneva Auto Show, DS Automobiles was showcasing their new DS3. They did so by allowing attendees to put on an HTC Vive headset which would allow them to experience what it would be like to sit behind the new supermini. Through this highly immersive, realistic and complete virtual experience, customers could easily imagine the possibilities by allowing them to envision themselves in the car in real-world situations. They were also able to see how easy (and fun!) it would be to personalize the vehicle. The DS3 offers more than 3 million combinations, from the dashboard to the upholstery to the mirrors and more. Consumers can configure the car, and then virtually experience it to make any changes before purchase.

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DS Automobiles hopes this will help them sell more cars more easily and more quickly, as well as help them capture knowledge to develop future solutions. They were pleased to tightly partner with Dassault Systemes to bring their “DS Virtual Vision” to life, leveraging the 3DEXPERIENCE platform and its Virtual Garage Industry Solution Experience o harness all data, connect key stakeholders and create these immersive experiences with efficiency.

Watch now a video on DS Automobiles’ DS Virtual Vision. You can also read an article written by DS Automobiles’ Executive Director, Global Sales & Marketing, Arnaud Ribault, in the latest issue of Dassault Systemes Compass mag that explains the mission of DS Automobiles in his own words.

 

(Images © DS Automobiles) 



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