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2015/07/02The connected automobile – its infrastructure, vehicles and drivers: a connected future [by Cindy Roth, CEIS]

15 billion ; the number of connected objects around the world at present, this is a number that will be multiplied by five before 2020 according to a report published by the European Audiovisual and Telecommunications Institute in 2013. Automobiles have not been able to avoid this “connected” trend, the subject of the FIC Observatory breakfast: “the connected automobile – its infrastructure, vehicles and drivers: a connected future” in the presence of knowledgeable professionals such as Christine Tissot, expert on intelligent transport systems from Renault, Jean-Francois Hueure, delegate for road safety from PSA Peugot Citroen, Colonel Franck Masecal, head of the Central Intelligence Transport Systems Observatory and Eric Ollinger, deputy manger of road networks and traffic.

Recognizing the global market potential, the President of France, Francois Hollande, presented on September 12, 2013 34 plans for the “new industrialized France” promising to place our country at the forefront of global competition especially in regards to the connected automobile. Yet, before large-scale commercialization, several negations and debates must be held between various economic actors.

The gradual evolution of automobiles

The automotive world has seen several twists and turns since the first steam vehicle was introduced to the world in 1770 by French engineer Nicolas-Joseph Cugnot. Connectivity and IT have gradually been introduced to the industry, and with their increasing contribution and benefits, we ask ourselves many questions. New vehicle features offered through partnerships with automakers and service providers aim to facilitate the driver’s role and ultimately replicate autopilot functions similar to those seen in aviation. The aviation industry is ahead of the automobile industry given the strict safety requirements and the fact that the connected car is offered to the public.

For both Renault and PSA, progress has been considerable since the early 2000s in terms of navigation assistance, traffic information diffused through FM radio as well as other systems connecting via 3G/4G networks. Connected vehicles will have a telecommunications unit (TCU) incorporating a SIM card and an array of other services. Users will also have access to services available through subscription.

In the coming years, cooperative connectivity will develop between vehicles and their infrastructures via a Wi-Fi network on a dedicated 5.9 GHz frequency. Information will come directly from the vehicle instead of sensors located on the floor of the car, and transferred through the SCOOP platform (Cooperative intelligent transport systems deployment project) and relayed to other vehicles. Two types of messages will be exchanged: cooperative awareness messages (CAM) emitted continuously containing information about the car’s speed and direction as well as decentralized environmental message notifications (DEMN) emitted during braking emergencies or in the case of an accident.

The SCOOP project was launched in February 2014 and will be deployed on roughly 3 000 vehicles over 2 000 kilometers. Several European projects similar to the SCOOP such as the CVIS, COOPERS and SAFESPOT have already been confirmed. The European Commission is very involved in these initiatives through the financing and the established European platform. The United States, in the mean time, have already tested several connected vehicles on the road. Moreover, the state of California has added a 16.6 division to its traffic laws (section 38750) through a bill passed by the Senate n. 1298 allowing “an autonomous vehicle to be tested on public roads…”

For PSA, the connected car will ultimately respond to four customer needs: time, safety, money and distraction. To this effect, free parking spots will be brought to the driver’s attention, an emergency call system will call for help in the case of an accident, insurance premiums will be reassessed based on mileage and the on-board computer system will offer a variety of entertainment features.

For the car’s driver, the cooperative connectivity allows for a more tranquil trip, traffic fluidity, road safety and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.

The Gendarme intends to communicate as early as possible the potential of these new cars. Not only will they improve the Gendarme’s responsiveness but eventually these cars will be able to operate other cars without the requirement of a driver. Colonel Franck Marescal emphasizes the benefits for road safety and accident or theft prevention.

However, the main issues around these vehicles are twofold. In terms of safety, are we ready to put our wellbeing in the hands of a machine? In regards to Europeans, are we ready to change our driving style, and for some, give up the pleasure of driving?

Stakeholder involvement

The connected car ecosystem becomes more complex when we look at the numerous economic actors as shown below. Both manufacturers Renault and PSA have already expressed their reservations for the arrival of service providers in the automotive market.

voiture

The various services of the connected vehicle are developed by a number of service providers such as Google, Apple, SAP, Atos, Microsoft, AXA and many others. The challenge for automobile makers is to manage this complex competitive market continually evolving.

All actors in the ecosystem want to take advantage of the numerous opportunities offered by the connected car for commercial, information or security purposes. Google already announced in May 2014, when the connected vehicle was still just an idea, the desire to display advertisements on all objects with internet access. Google, however, faces a major obstacle: “a car’s dashboard is not similar to a web browser – people will not appreciate an advertisement on their speedometer.”

PSA, in partnership with IBM, also plans to get a hold of the connected vehicles’ data through a routed network relaying back to IBM data centers for processing. With this system, car manufacturers will be better informed on the users and offer them a tailored automotive experience, useful in an increasingly competitive market where consumers aren’t as loyal.

Service providers such as traffic managers are also very interested in the data collected from applications as is already the case with Smartphones. While providers use this data for commercial purposes, traffic managers see this as a new way to inform drivers and ensure safety on the roads. This CNIL has already guaranteed that the use of this data will be anonymous; data will remain stored in the SCOOP system and all extensions will be subject to authorization from the CNIL.

Manufacturers, suppliers, traffic managers and other businesses are not the only ones interested in the connected vehicles’ data, insurance companies also see these cars as a source of information and risk reduction. Insurers will offer a service “Pay as you drive” by the end of 2015 and are already thinking of another service “Pay how you drive.” While the first service is based on the number of kilometers driven with the help of a GPS software, the second service will gather information from the vehicle to estimate crash risks based on driving behavior.

It still remains to be seen the roles each actor will take once the vehicle takes off. To this effect, Google could not only be a service provider but also a car manufacturer.

Today’s challenges

The marketing of the connected car to the public will bring a flood of challenges to various stakeholders.

At a legal level, the challenge that directly or indirectly involves all parties is: in the case of an accident who is responsible? In view of current regulations, the driver cannot refute responsibility even if the vehicle is partly at fault. If in fact the car is subject to a malfunction or puts the safety of the driver at risk, the supplier or manufacturer can be held liable under articles 1386-1 and those concerning product liability. PSA and Renault do not seem prepared to follow this law. Some legal experts advocate for a cascading liability regime where the primary actor held responsible in the case of an accident would be the car manufacturer and then the driver.

In terms of security, a connected car has more entry points for hackers. Jean-Francois Huere noted, “The connected vehicle is not a Smartphone with wheels but two tons travelling at 130 km/h and carrying humans.” The challenges in terms of security are therefore to successfully provide a satisfactory separation between operating networks connected to the control system and networks related the entertainment system. PSA evokes a necessary precision when choosing service providers guaranteeing that the car is secure and hacking risks are minimized. The main concern articulated by Colonel Franck Marescal remains the control of the car from a distance.

Security issues will be even more critical with the deployment of cooperative connectivity. Renault is pilot for a project adapting safety standards to the automotive world, ITS Security 2014-2017. Currently, before a vehicle can transmit messages, it must have a certificate that reduces the risk of false information being relayed.

Distraction behind the wheel is also a danger. PSA has already predicted that Facebook will be inaccessible while driving and that advertisements will be forbidden from being shown on the windshield.

Challenges are also normative. Chrstine Tissot stated, “If a Renault car crosses a Peugot car on the road, they must be able to communicate and this requires norms and standards.” Discussions have been held with various stakeholders to develop common standards. However, excessive standardization would undermine competition and technological innovation. Regarding the SCOOP initiative, standardization is still progressing (ETSI, ISO).

Ethically, challenges also encompass privacy. Renault repeated the importance of privacy in view of the requirements imposed by the CNIL. The question also arises; will a driver under the influence or a minor be able to get behind the wheel of a smart car? Manufacturers are unable to provide an answer to this question at this point in time. Yet, proof of a driver’s license and blood alcohol level will be necessary unless a company decides otherwise.

Economically, the cost of a connected vehicle mustn’t be excessively high. Renault estimates a payment plan depending on the vehicles equipment and model. In terms of R-Link services (subscription service), prices will be based on packages.

Technically, there are still many issues that remain unresolved by manufacturers, suppliers and telecom operators such as areas without 4G coverage. Renault has also identified the difficulties regarding the life cycle of the vehicles and their services. While the life-span of a vehicle may be 10-15 years, its services may have a significantly shorter life span.