June 15, 2016 at 2:05 PM


The automotive industry is an ever expanding pot of ideas just waiting for the next breakthrough technology to set the bar for everyone to follow. But where is the automotive industry actually going at the moment? What's next? And what risks does such advanced technology present for motorists? 

James McManus from Lease4Less.org.uk takes a look at the current technology regarding connected cars and the risks we could be presented with using such advanced technology.

From Driver To Driven:

Autonomous cars, a scary thought. To think that potentially in twenty years time we might not even have to drive our own cars. Tesla have already explored the use of autonomous technology on our roads, Tesla owners now have the ability to let their car drive them. Okay, it may not be as advanced as it will be in the following years, but it's still a worrying thought that the Tesla driving next to you on the motorway could be driving itself.

The Internet of things is here to stay, tech companies and car manufacturers have been throwing ideas out over the last five years, but two ideas that seems to be in the headlines the most is connected cars and autonomous driving. Either a Google autonomous car has crashed for the 50th time or an autonomous Volvo has been video'd mowing down a technician.

Not to mention that last year, two hackers gained control of a Jeep, urging Fiat Chrysler to recall 1.4 million cars and trucks in the US market. That is probably one of the most alarming things to happen to connected cars so far, and with technology advancing, things can only get worse...

Through just the infotainment system alone, two hackers were able to turn the car off, play around with the air-conditioning and even change the volume of the car's stereo. Now if that was done just through a car's infotainment system, imagine what a hacker would be able to exploit in a car that has the capabilities to drive itself.

More recently the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has been the target of hackers. Early last week a video was released online by Pen Test Partners showing they could gain access to the car, just using the Outlander's Wi-Fi Network.

So that presents the question again... Are we really ready for the future of cars?


Image credit: Wired.com

Look Mum, No Hands...

Driverless vehicles are to be trialled in three major UK cities with trials set to start next year. As it stands, it's not legal for driverless cars to drive on public roads, but the UK government has been trying to update legislation to help boost development. 

Last year, Business Secretary Vince Cable revealed two measures to get autonomous cars onto UK roads in the following years. A £10 million fund will help the trial of autonomous cars in three cities in the UK and a legal review will also be held in 2017 to take a look into the legalities around autonomous vehicles on public roads.

This years budget also hedged towards the development of autonomous cars, with chancellor George Osborne announcing that driverless cars would be trialed on a "strategic road network" as soon as next year.

If connected cars and autonomous driving didn't seem real to you before they certainly should now.

So, Where Are We Going?

It looks like it's pretty much set in stone that the UK government is happy to fund the development of connected vehicles and is happy to let them loose on public roads. The risk of us having a more connected road network leaves us in a very vulnerable state, especially if cars are more connected. It could give a bedroom hacker the ability to bring down a whole road network.

The FBI and the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (US NHTSA) have already expressed concerns about the risks of cars being hacked. The FBI and the US NHTSA released an advisory note, warning the public of cyber threats regarding connected vehicles.

The advisory note read:

"Modern motor vehicles often include new connected vehicle technologies that aim to provide benefits such as added safety features, improved fuel economy and greater overall convenience," the note read.

"With this increased connectivity, it is important that consumers and manufacturers maintain awareness of potential cyber security threats."

But are vehicle manufacturers really doing enough to prevent cyber attacks and potential exploits? It seems not, at the moment, cars aren't even fully connected. Well they are to some extent, but not to the stage they will be in 5-10 years, yet exploits and cyber attacks are already happening.

It's worth asking the question, are we really ready for connected cars?



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