Just 10 years ago, the concept of the connected car was difficult to imagine – a concept closer to science fiction than fact. Now, connected car technology is rapidly emerging and evolving, with the market expected to reach $53 billion in 2017, and $156 billion by 2022.

As with any new technology, there is mounting uncertainty about the connected car, as consumers routinely express concern about these vehicles’ safety, convenience, and costs. The reality is that current advancements in connected-car technology will provide incredible, safe, and affordable benefits for drivers and passengers, as well as for car manufacturers. The following are common questions and misconceptions about its future.

Myth: Securing connected cars requires breakthroughs in security technology.

Fact: Connected cars are extremely complex, with many sensors, computers, and networks, along with an ever-growing list of features. Fortunately, technologies already exist that have proven effective in securing some of the largest enterprise information technology (IT) infrastructures. Existing technologies are well equipped to keep drivers and their data safe now and into the future.

An Internet Protocol (IP) over Ethernet backbone architecture can be the foundation for securing in-vehicle networking. With all communications standardized and passing through the backbone, the network can analyze and control data with security technologies such as access controls, firewalls, and encryption to thwart cyberattacks.

An Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity management platform can automate how and when a vehicle connects and what it does with that data. For example, an automotive manufacturer can automatically disable connectivity while a vehicle is being shipped, preventing abuse of the connection during transit. Once the car arrives at the dealership, connectivity can automatically and securely resume.

Myth: Connected car benefits are limited to next-generation infotainment.

Fact: The connected car offers far more than the ability to stream music and video, provide real-time traffic updates, or integrate seamlessly with mobile devices. In the next few years, we will see frictionless commerce, whereby the car anticipates and fulfills the drivers’ and passengers’ needs for food, beverages, and other items by seamlessly interacting with smart infrastructure, such as fast food restaurants and café parking lots that sense and respond to approaching cars.

However, the true power of the connected car goes beyond what’s on your dashboard. Predictive maintenance, driver-assisted and highly automated driving, and software-defined vehicle personalization all involve technologies deeper within the vehicle. With the evolution toward architectures, such as the IP over Ethernet backbone and vehicles connected securely to cloud-based analytics, the services that can be delivered is nearly endless.

Myth: Due to all the data they collect, connected cars pose privacy concerns for consumers.

Fact: Connected cars are collecting more and more data – driving patterns, biometrics, video, and even information on shopping habits. Experts estimate that highly automated vehicles will use 4 terabytes (TB) of data per day. Naturally, some consumers find this unnerving and prefer to forgo connected services to maintain greater control of their personal data.

Fortunately, drivers will have detailed options for governing the kinds of information they provide and how it is used. By applying secure network architectures, automakers can ease concerns and help cautious consumers focus on all the benefits a connected car can offer. These efforts will go a long way in driving adoption rates – a 2016 IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) study showed that 56% of consumers said security and privacy would be essential differentiators in their future purchasing decisions.

Myth: Automakers are responsibile for securing connected cars.

Fact: The vehicle manufacturer is just one link in the security chain. Multiple tiers of suppliers, dealerships, developers of aftermarket devices and services, regulatory bodies, and other industries creating devices and services that interact with connected cars are all responsible for keeping cars and drivers safe and secure.

It is especially important for third parties who provide connected car applications to have secure infrastructures. For instance, a mall operator installing vehicle-to-infrastructure units to guide heavy traffic to optimal parking spots will need to ensure that all the proper security controls are in place.

Myth: Automotive manufacturers are moving rapidly to connected cars.

Fact: Manufacturers aren’t innovating as quickly as expected. A collection of isolated heritage networks in the vehicle and a mushrooming architecture of individual computers and sensors are slowing progress for the world’s largest auto manufacturers. To realize the full potential of connected cars, sensors – light detection and ranging (Lidar), radar, and video cameras – need to send gigabits per second of information through the vehicle. Increasingly powerful processors are required to make sense of this information for safety and experience-improving features such as driver assistance and automated driving.

The bandwidth limitations of controller area networks (CAN) and local interconnect networks (LIN), as well as the difficulty of internetworking different domains, are also holding back progress. However, the future looks bright as new architectures for in-vehicle networks are in the works and should give manufacturers both the capabilities and the agility they need to accelerate into the connected vehicle age.

Connected car benefits are unmistakable. With additional time, innovation, and work in educating drivers, the future of all our roads and vehicles will be connected – securely, safely, and efficiently.

Cisco Consulting Services


About the author: Shaun Kirby, director, Automotive & Connected Car Management, can be reached at connected_trans@cisco.com.