How Blockchain Will Protect Driverless Cars
Have you ever taken a ride in a self-driving car? You will. The industry shift towards autonomous vehicles is gaining so much momentum that you might even own one eventually.
It might be hard to imagine, but just a few decades ago many of us lived without internet. Now the internet is deeply ingrained into our daily lives - and so is ensuring we keep ourselves safe from online hackers and cyber-attacks. Similarly, as autonomous driving becomes more ubiquitous, so will the importance of our cyber-security behind the wheel.
In the infographic below, we’ve shared our research regarding the rise of the self-driving car, the concerns of our nation, and the benefits of blockchain.
What was once a futuristic fantasy is now barreling towards reality: driverless cars are coming, and they’re coming soon. With legislation 1 that would encourage the national legality of autonomous vehicles passing in the house with a unanimous vote, it’s plain to see that driverless cars are on the horizon. Indeed, some forecasts predict as many as one in five vehicles will be autonomous in just a few short years.
This isn’t just speculation. The folks over at Atrivity 2 connected the dots between a number of trends in the automotive world, including partnerships with tech companies, increased research and development spending, and a heavy shift towards hiring computer scientists as a clear indication that the entire industry is moving towards autonomous driving capabilities. While the University of Connecticut 3 acknowledges there are no fully autonomous vehicles on US roads at this time, they too agree they are coming soon.
Are we ready? While many of us are happy to usher in the age of kicking back and reading while our cars do all of the work, a large portion of Americans are concerned about what this future holds. Can a self-driving car really be safe from the hazards of the road? And more importantly, if our personal information is often prey to hackers, will hackers be able to take control of our steering wheels?
In fact, a University of Michigan 4 study revealed as many as 88% of American citizens are at least slightly concerned about the cyber-security of autonomous vehicles. More than 40% of Americans consider themselves “very” concerned or “extremely” concerned about this issue. But is this a case of people fearing the new for no good reason, or is there really something to worry about here?
The truth is, this concern is not without warrant. Vehicles that rely on an internet connection are susceptible to cyber-attack, pure and simple. In fact, it’s happened before. 5 And as the FBI points out 6 the more tasks that are governed by electronic control units (ECUs), the more hackers will be able to potentially control. Currently any modern vehicle has ECUs controlling its windshield wipers, locks, and navigation systems. In the case of a fully autonomous vehicle these ECUs would control everything, therefore a hacker in the system would be capable of anything.
If we’re moving towards a future filled with driverless cars, tight cyber-security is essential. But what does that mean exactly? In the case of cars, it’s blockchain technology. 7 Though this technology is often associated with bitcoin and cryptocurrency, Zach Church from MIT Sloan 8 explains that we will likely see a number of applications of this new technology in the coming five to ten years. Experts are already seeing a great number of applications for blockchain technology in accounting and logistics.
According to the US General Services Administration 9 Blockchain could hold the key to security in online finances, contracts, and government-issued credentials. In short, this decentralized method of network distribution would make hacking your car next to impossible. The benefits of blockchain don’t stop there: this network structure is ripe with benefits that, among other things, will ensure a national system of smart cars will be essentially uncrashable.
- The Self Drive Act U.S. Energy and Commerce Committee
- 5 Technological Trends in the Automotive Industry Atrivity
- Taking the Wheel: The Rise of Self-Driving Cars UConn Today
- Hack my car? Most believe it can happen University of Michigan
- Chrysler recalls 1.4 million hackable cars CNN
- Motor Vehicles Increasingly Vulnerable to Remote Exploits Federal Bureau of Investigation
- Blockchain Wikipedia
- Blockchain, Explained MIT Sloan School of Management
- Blockchain US General Services Administration