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back to article Honk if the car in front is connected

Connecting cars to the internet and to each other seems to be inevitable, whether or not you approve - and plenty don’t. Let’s face it, though, everything else is connecting to the internet, so why not your favourite drive? By 2017, according to ABI Research, a market watcher, some 50 million connected cars will be sold every …

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FAIL

This is all going to end in tears...

Just wait until the mission creep sets in and everyone and their dogs can gain access to your personal motoring data under crime, terrorism or kiddie protection legislation. Reminding you that your MOT / tax is due is fine, as is letting you know there's something wrong with your engine or you've got a nail in your tyre is fine. AutoPhorm, location tracking, letting SonyBMG know you've been playing Susan Boyle content leeched of l33torrentz and driver profiling is not.

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Re: This is all going to end in tears...

I noticed a stroy in Information Age about a big American insurer in the UK gettign together with a telco to monitor cars and feedback the second-by-second info for insurance purposes. Presumably if you prove, second-by-second, that you are an uber-safe driver, you won't get hammered at renewal time. Or otherwise. I am not sure I want my car so hooked in that financial decisions are made for me by people who do not have my interests at heart (which would be everyone except me).

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Re: This is all going to end in tears...

We use Audi Connect which is an online account which syncs to the car's systems via it's 3G connection. It works very well for syncing contacts, finding google POIs and adding media to the MMI, internet radio. e.g. when in google maps on a computer, one can hover over the drop pin and choose other>send to>car - but I would like to do more, such as add new features, and have a better insight into telematics such as mpg history, telematic status of systems from a computer. It would be good to change settings of things in the car from inside the house and upload them rather than sitting on the drive using clickwheels and buttons..

Maybe someone is missing a trick about an incar OS with it's own app store and online ecosystem. Are motor manufacturer's own second-rate offerings enough?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: This is all going to end in tears...

Audi connect is precisely one of the reasons why I want to avoid in car connectivity like the plague. It is far too easy now to hook up a car to a WAN infrastructure via cellular means or even local WiFi, and this opens up another tracking gateway. I don't care what the benefits are, rule one is that the OWNER must be in control, not the data collectors who are getting fat on collecting and reselling personal information by ignoring privacy laws as if they don't exist.

Audi connect uses Google for a number of services, and its privacy policy very elegantly avoids cleartext about the fact that you are handing off data to Google which enables them to track you. Translated: all those nice services are only available contingent on you permitting tracking, or you're buying a facility which you cannot actually use. If that sounds familiar, yes, it is probably even *based* on Android.

I'm going to have a word with Audi in the next couple of days, and possibly involve my local Data Protection regulator in the discussion because it's time that the idiots who come up with this stuff start thinking about the implications of what they do and take responsibility. It's bad enough Google seems to think EU Data Protection laws are merely suggestions, the last thing we need is car designers help them to more information by misinforming customers about how their fancy interfaces really get that data.

When you pay for a service with personal information, it is NOT free or companies like Google would not be trying to game EU privacy laws by filling up Brussels with lobbyists right now.

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Ask and you shall receive...

> Maybe someone is missing a trick about an incar OS with it's own app store and online ecosystem

From New Scientist in January:

Ford's Open-Source Kit Brings Era of Smart Car Apps

Ford Motor Co. recently released OpenXC, an open source hardware and software toolkit that will allow the hacker community to experiment with the computer systems that run its cars. The open nature of the system could eventually lead to custom applications that give drivers more control over their car's performance. A driver will be able to download approved apps from a Ford store onto their smartphone that can communicate with a car's computer system. Such apps may tap some underused components of a car. Although manufacturers try to balance their cars between economy and performance, software could push it to one extreme or the other, giving the car owner a more efficient or faster vehicle than the one they bought, notes Ford researcher K. Venkatesh Prasad. Most microcontrollers in cars use the CAN bus protocol to communicate. Since this protocol is well understood, encryption can be bypassed with off-the-shelf tools. In theory, OpenXC will work with any make of car that supports the standards, and Toyota, Nissan, and Honda have already expressed interest in the system.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21729015.700-fords-opensource-kit-brings-era-of-smart-car-apps.html

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Anonymous Coward

Update on Audi Connect..

I've sent the questions directly to Audi AG in Germany after I dug out the person responsible for Data Protection (and copied in the local Data Protection office for good measure, for Audi that is the LBA in Bayern). Audi don't provide the email address of the Data Protection registrar online, but it's not hard to guess with a naming structure of first.last@audi.de :).

I know the email has been received and opened (delivery and read receipt have both returned), let's see what happens..

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Can't wait

For the first crashes because folk overtake on blind corners because they haven't been told not to.

I can see the value of this, but I think it will need a little tweaking to be really useful

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Mushroom

Re: Can't wait

Personally, I can't wait for the first person to set their passcode to 16309, enabling James Kirk to control their car from his car and lower their shields.

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I see some potential in this...

But, will speed cameras, police cars and such also be connected and talk to my car sufficiently early? Or will it just be my car talking to the rozzers to tell them that I'm speeding?

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Re: I see some potential in this...

"will speed cameras ... also be connected "

I wonder. If they're really there to force people to slow down and be more alert in accident blackspots, I can't see why they wouldn't be. But of course that isn't what many people think they're for...

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Joke

Re: I see some potential in this...

Why bother? It can just ignore the accelerator pedal position and make the speedometer give an overestimated reading to the driver, perhaps simulating an increased engine volume and road noise through the speakers.

No-one gets fined, the driver thinks they're going fast, everyone's happy.

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Re: I see some potential in this...

Surely it would be best if the road could tell your car what the speed limit was and the car tried its best to prevent you from getting pulled over by the rozzers for speeding / getting flashed by a gatso, with all the insurance hikes that will incur.

Hell, why not make it a standard fit, and you could only temporarily disable it by parking, turning the engine off, and tapping out morse code on the reverse lights, or by engaging your blue flashing lights.

If you want faster ground transportation than is legal on the roads, take the train, or go and drive on a racing track.

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Re: I see some potential in this...

You've missed the more obvious issue, the rozzers will be talking to your car, not the other way round.

No need for flashing lights, just the the ping of "MAIN ENGINE SWITCH OFF", and your now parked on the hard shoulder.

Will make police chases slightly less interesting.

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Re: I see some potential in this...

Main engine switch off whilst you're traveling in traffic and you're likely to be parked in the barrier, facing the wrong way, maybe upside down.

Stopping high speed chases safely by going into 'limp home' mode, and then progressively reducing throttle response is surely a good thing though.

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Re: I see some potential in this...

"MAIN ENGINE SWITCH OFF" - no problem switch to auxiliary!! how far can a starter motor get me ??

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Pirate

Re: I see some potential in this...

And what happens when some miscreant figures out how to hack into the system and shut down your car whilst you're driving along a deserted country road...?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I see some potential in this...

« Surely it would be best if the road could tell your car what the speed limit was »

That would be automatic sign recognition, coupled with a good navigation database that already contains speed limits. Both exist already and are actually handy.

The magnificent know-it-alls in here will tell you they can just look out the windscreen and read the signs (which is exactly what the car itself does), and yes, you can. If you can also keep in memory whether the speed limit on this particular stretch of road was X or Y or maybe Z while also busy driving the car, spotting conflicting traffic, navigating, looking out for and anticipating hazards, then you do not need this. On the other hand those of us who are merely human do appreciate the extra help.

As for keeping within the speed limit, cruise control helps lots. If it is adaptive cruise control it will also make you far less likely to tailgate the slightly slower moving vehicle in front of you, and it also reacts quicker than a human in an emergency breaking situation.

Again, the above is just my own experience, but at least it IS experience, rather than trying to be a smartarse making armchair comments as to why hundreds of experienced engineers are just "idiots".

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Re: I see some potential in this...

My thoughts, too. Since governments are much more interested in revenue than anything else (like public service or safety), I can see the day when you'll receive a ticket in the mail for every instance you exceed a speed limit, courtesy of your car 'reporting' you via interconnectivity with the infrastructure.

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Flame

Like Marvin

I'm feeling very very depressed.

If you want to drive coupled to the car in front, take the bloody train. I for one don't want my drive controlled my Mr 40mph in the middle lane. I don't want to read my emails or download entertainment from teh intarwebs or be thrown adverts or routed onto a different road.

The very most I want to know is 'this road is subject to delays because xxx'. That's it.

The scenarios illustrated in the article are fanciful at best: the amount of processing power required to uniquely and unambiguously identify every other vehicle in sight, in all conditions of temperature, visibility, and weather; to identify road conditions and braking distances and 'that bloke never had a driving lesson in his life' and that ball that just rolled onto the road is likely to have a kid following it and ooh, an ice cream van... nah. We've got a computer that can do that, and it's made with great delight and unskilled labour.

We don't need mechanisms to stop us having to think; we need educating *to* think.

meh.

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Pint

Re: Like Marvin

Perhaps there can be a system to tell Mr 40mph to get the %$^£ out of the middle lane because he's not overtaking anyone at that speed and is causing tailbacks halfway across the country....

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Re: Like Marvin

"I for one don't want my drive controlled my Mr 40mph in the middle lane"

Well then you'd better hope that he gets his car networked and automated quickly so that the vehicle chooses not to do this, but instead drives at a good speed in a sensible lane.

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Re: Like Marvin

Yep.

It's called "a horn". And if he carries on, there is the inevitable and rather foolproof method of educating someone about the error of their ways, called the "multiple vehicle pile-up".

That said, motorways have three lanes. You could always just overtake.

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Re: Like Marvin

But wouldn't it be nice if instead of 40mph middle lane hogs all the cars on the Motorway were driving at a consistent safe speed?

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Re: Like Marvin

"That said, motorways have three lanes"

Not all of them.

I've also noticed that Mr Middle Lane Driver doesn't often tend to notice much of what's happening behind them, including but not limited to large queues, beeping horns, flashing lights and whatnot.

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Re: Like Marvin

"Not all of them."

The vast majority of them, though there are some dual-carriageway A roads with motorway rules. Usually the ones marked as "A000(M)" on the map.

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Angel

Re: Like Marvin

Assuming Facebook hasn't gone titsup by then, you could poke Mr 40mph to let him know how you feel about his delaying your journey.

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Devil

Re: Like Marvin

all the ones that have middle lanes have at least 3 lanes.

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Childcatcher

Re: Like Marvin

Don't tease me like this.

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Coat

Re: Like Marvin

Don't tease me, bro?

Okay, I'm going.

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For the driver to actually...

respond this needs to flash up in a HUD else any other distractions could just cause more issues. This is why marketing should not be allowed here. What would be nice is a minimap style radar view of your surroundings. That way you can always tell where everyone else is.

It has potential but yeah privacy implications are there as well.

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Anonymous Coward

I knew it, the CAN (Car Area Network) is coming.

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Car Area Network

It's already here, my 3-year-old Ford has all the electronics on the CANbus.

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Big Brother

Today you watch the dashboard

Tomorrow it watches you.

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Re: Today you watch the dashboard

Exactly.

I like my privacy. In fact, I demand it.

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And when it all gets hacked...

...people will start turning it off.

The question is, what hack will be first?

Will it be someone trying to track individuals (jealous spouse, nosey boss)

Trying to track peoples movements to determine the best place to advertise (60% of our drive through customers passed a particular billboard etc)

Clearing your route to work (false signals saying a road is blocked so you can use it relatively unhindered.)

Or someone just being a cock and sending out random events to annoy people, just because they can.

And if that system is on the same network as other car management items, you could be even more screwed. Air con set to full heat in summer, ice cold in winter, engine management forced on to 'limp-home-mode'. Radio forcing you to listen to Chris Evans and any other form of torture someone can think of.

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Re: And when it all gets hacked...

Billboards telling cars there is congestion ahead so they have to slow down and read the message?

I'm not convinced how the system could ever be made secure, and even if there are new laws it it is going to be hard to prove who brought the motorway to a standstill by sending the fake message that they have just done an emergency stop.

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Re: And when it all gets hacked...

"I'm not convinced how the system could ever be made secure, and even if there are new laws it it is going to be hard to prove who brought the motorway to a standstill by sending the fake message that they have just done an emergency stop."

Especially if it's some naughty sod who's buried a smartphone in the motorway embankment along with a 24v truck battery powerful enough to last for weeks.

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Re: And when it all gets hacked...

"I'm not convinced how the system could ever be made secure"

Presumably it'll be some kind of public/private key thing, like SSL, so I'd expect the hacks will be similar ones used to that - i.e. attacking the certificate authorities and having spoof certificates issued.

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Big Brother

Re: ...people will start turning it off.

Really? You think that will be possible?

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Boffin

Re: And when it all gets hacked...

As evident from some of the above posts, there are many different kinds of security and hacking to consider:

a. The cars' and other nodes' firewalls to prevent these being hacked into by outsiders.

b. Ability using crypto signatures and registers (maintained by whom and accessible to whom?) securely to identify originators of malicious messages without leaking confidential data to unauthorised parties or for unintended purposes.

c. Ability to check whether client X is authorised to perform action Y on server Z.

d. Denial of service, through jamming, overloading etc.

e. Issues to do with differences of interpretation of standards by foreign vehicles on local roads.

That's just for starters - list by no means complete.

Very nice set of features suggested in the article, but the security engineering and architecture of this all is going to be very far from trivial, even if it ever gets a coherent security architecture. If it doesn't we'll see much more of this as the threat landscape evolves and engineers spend years trying to patch something up for issues which should have been foreseen by system and standards designers but weren't.

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FAIL

Re: And when it all gets hacked...

Yeah, cause those always stop hackers.

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Facepalm

Re: And when it all gets hacked...

But hasn't government shown us it is completely competent to overcome these issues? Look at how well it manages all of their existing programmes and functions.

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Joke

How long before cars have their own social network? And what would it be called?

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GrilleBook?

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Logbook?

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...robots in disguise!

What, Autobots, of course!

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Anonymous Coward

God I hope not

More technology in cars? more accidents and hacks more like.

Did they not learn anything from the BMW key clone hack?

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Anonymous Coward

Just my experience

I have to say I'm quite impressed at the quality of the automation we already have. With adaptive cruise control, lane departure prevention, side assist, TMC, automatic lights (deflects rather than turns off high beam when there are other cars around, so you can still see the edge of the road--important if you live in a forest), pedestrian detection, and can't remember what else, I find myself having much more spare mental capacity to *manage* the driving (and also have better situational awareness), rather than merely operating the controls. It might not be as much fun but it's a hell of a lot safer and more considerate towards everyone else--if I want to do the shifting gears thing I just hire the nearby F1 racetrack for half an hour and do it without inconveniencing others.

P.S.: I am also a commercial pilot and it's interesting how much of the approach to "managing" the flight is being adapted to the ground transportation arena.

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Re: Just my experience

"P.S.: I am also a commercial pilot and it's interesting how much of the approach to "managing" the flight is being adapted to the ground transportation arena."

I have to wonder what your opinion is of the fly-by-wire systems that can, have and will absolutely deny control to the pilot even when the computer is obviously sending you up the creek without a paddle? I think everyone and their dog has seen the Air France flight disappearing into the trees at the end of the runway because the dipshit onboard computer thought "oh.. I'm at a low altitude, I WILL LAND NOW." That's just the most prominent example, though I'm sure you know of enough others.

These things need a damned off switch.

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