Cybersecurity Insight

How Will the US Govern Autonomous Vehicles?

21 Sep

Autonomous vehicles are trending toward becoming more of a general commodity – with Uber testing autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh, Google continuing to deploy its faction near the California home campus, and multiple automobile companies investing in the technology for future mass production, now comes the time that the government steps in to regulate and hopefully continue to keep the roads as safe as possible. With the US Department of Transportation having just issued its own set of rules of the road for autonomous vehicles, a number of different topics must be considered when it comes to the technology used – namely, cyber security and big data.

Data collection is a major point to consider – not only will the government need to record all accidents that occur, but any malfunctions, upgrades, or general tweaks that need to occur must be logged by the manufacturer and available in accordance with their security and privacy guidelines as it relates to the company and owner of the vehicle. Furthermore, these vehicles may be able to take the data logged and continue to learn as they drive. With artificial intelligence coming further into the limelight, these vehicles should be able to, say, avoid a situation if it occurs multiple times.

Another is cyber security, something that has been a point of contention from the time that wireless came equipped in mass produced vehicles. Having covered this in past pieces on the Neovera blog, it’s safe to say that cyber security on autonomous vehicles is an entirely different animal to consider. An immediate thought is that, hypothetically, there wouldn’t be a “human override” in the car at some points, or even at all. Not only could a significant cyber attack harm the vehicle and anything its carrying, but it could even cause significant damage to whatever is around it. The Department of Transportation suggests that information be shared amongst automobile companies, and each vehicle with wireless capabilities should have robust, full-fledged mobile cyber security protection.

To be clear, everything that the US Department of Transportation released are all guidelines – they aren’t laws by any means, as those will most likely come much later. But given the grand scope of autonomous vehicles in the market already, and how this industry could continue to grow, more significant legislation is hopefully on the horizon. In the short-term, however, the argument is continually made for vehicles with wireless capabilities to have a solid cyber security protection protocol in place. When purchasing a vehicle, confirm that cyber security protection is available and working – if not, you are putting yourself, as the driver, and your passengers at risk each time you get behind the wheel.