By Hilary Cain
We are on the threshold of a new era in information technology. Connectivity—which has until recently been confined to our laptops, smartphones, and tablets—is becoming increasingly common in everything from home appliances to jet engines. The emerging Internet of Everything (IoE) will spawn new services that improve our quality of life, create efficiencies, and foster more informed decision-making.
Nowhere is the IoE transformation more profound than in the auto industry. We are on the cusp of a radical change in the automobile made possible by connectivity. Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) and vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) communication will bring about amazing reductions in traffic fatalities and provide a gateway to self-driving (or autonomous) vehicles. Unimaginable services and features will provide greater opportunities for efficiency, personalization, and safety for travelers. Of course, there are also challenges.
A V2V and V2I communication network is possible only if vehicles are speaking the same language. Toyota vehicles must communicate with cars from other vehicle manufacturers. Similarly, because cars are more durable and on the road longer, a Toyota built today must be able to communicate with a vehicle hitting the road 10 years from now.
Various private sector collaborations and coalitions have worked diligently for years to define, develop, and validate the V2V and V2I communication protocol. This industry coordination has helped ensure that the connected vehicle network will be interoperable, robust, and able to withstand the test of time.
The good news is that the auto industry has not been deaf to these risks. It came together to proactively address privacy concerns and, last November, unveiled Privacy Principles for Vehicle Technologies and Services. These self-regulatory Principles, which essentially amount to an industry code of conduct that governs the collection and use of vehicle data, were developed and socialized over many months by the auto industry and include unprecedented consumer data protections.
For example, automakers are prohibited from using sensitive vehicle data for marketing purposes or from sharing sensitive vehicle data with third parties without a vehicle owner’s affirmative consent. The Principles represent a clear commitment from the auto industry to protect and preserve consumer privacy, and it should be celebrated as a meaningful self-regulatory model for other sectors in the emerging IoE ecosystem.
Connectivity in cars has also spawned cybersecurity concerns. By the end of the year, the industry will have a new layer of defense in the fight against would-be hackers. Working together, we have established an Information Sharing and Analysis Center to act as an industrywide clearinghouse for intelligence about cyber threats to vehicles and their onboard networks. It will also facilitate the sharing of best practices for how to safeguard against and respond to such threats.
The auto industry is enthusiastic about innovation made possible through connectivity. This innovation will undoubtedly change our lives and the way we travel.
Through industry partnerships and collaborations, we can be assured that the exciting vehicles of tomorrow will drive us safely and responsibly into the future.
Hilary M. Cain is the Director of Technology and Innovation Policy for Toyota’s Government Affairs.