Elephant in the connected room

Our brave new connected IoT world touts the promise of infusing “smarts” into logistics and functionality of commercial and personal mobility. The promise of efficiencies, convenience, and economies with a shared and smart mobility are all around us. Electric heavy duty trucks, integrated shared personal mobility, smart city services, zero tailpipe emissions, and vastly improved safety.

It is exciting and evolving and 20 years from now, will appear to have occurred almost overnight but it will have evolved over many years and only after a massive and collaborative effort. In the meantime, there are a billion “legacy” vehicles on our planet, each with an average life of more than 10 years for light vehicles, and 15 or more years for heavy vehicles/trucks and as of today, still populating the planet at about 100 million vehicles per year. This is the massive elephant in the “connected” room.

Legacy vehicles will be connected because they can be – therefore, the real question is “how.” Researchers have demonstrated that existing CAN bus architecture on virtually all legacy vehicles is vulnerable to an unsecured connected OBD device and when exploited, depending on vehicle design, can provide an attacker access to the internal vehicles communication network. In this scenario, remote control of some vehicle functionality while the vehicle is underway can occur – a prospect that has caught the attention of many over the past several years. Geotab is one alongside many stakeholders (SAE, IEEE, Auto-ISAC, ISO, Government, Vehicle Manufacturers, Universities, fleet owners) across the connected mobility eco-system that is working to address this issue. This article describes the why and how behind the tireless and ongoing effort among stakeholders to turn lemon into lemonade – “vulnerable” into “connected and smart” – elephant style.

Neutral Vehicle is a concept advocating an “open and secure” connected architecture for existing legacy vehicles, and future smart, connected, and eventually autonomous vehicles. This view is focused on consumer “choice” and “competition” being key drivers of continuous improvement and effi ciency. “Open” refers to an architecture that creates interoperability – “Security” refers to the ability to withstand efforts to attack and penetrate the connected vehicle architecture to nefarious ends. News flash! – we don’t have to wait for the smart connected vehicle (or fleet) – the elephant sized fleet of legacy vehicles can be securely connected and become “smart” – in fact, in the commercial space the connected “smart” vehicle has been a reality for over 15 years! If vehicles currently have life spans of over a decade, and technology has a half-life of 18 months (derivative of Moore’s law), – it seems reasonable that for now, and the foreseeable future, a smart transportation model must incorporate the ability to upgrade technology over the life of the vehicle. Navigation maps illustrate a prime example of this need. Neutral Vehicle presents a model that has provision for this ability to upgrade and improve, open source. First, consider the security part of the “open and secure.”

Author: Glenn Atkinson Vice President of Product Safety at Geotab

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