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Enabling the three pillars of automotive IoT: telematics, infotainment and V2X communication


By Christine Caviglioli, VP Automotive & Mobility Services, Thales

Much of the Internet of Things (IoT) is already in place. Even though in some cases the technology is still evolving or being fine-tuned, most of what it’s envisaged for a connected future is already here.

In many ways, IoT services appear like a jigsaw, but once pieced together, they create connected smart environments. When it comes to connected cars, however, there are just a few more things that need to be ironed out. For instance, the automotive industry must start working on the three pillars of the future IoT in vehicles, consisting of telematics, infotainment and vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communication.

Understanding telematics

Telematics is available today in the form of GPS services like travel re-routing and real-time accident updates, but also as hands-free phone calls and maintenance alerts, among others.

To further develop telematics and offer new services based on car- and driver-behaviour monitoring – for example Usage-Based Insurance (UBI) – it is crucial that car manufacturers ensure always-on connectivity in their vehicles. This means that selected connectivity components should withstand extreme conditions, such as extreme temperatures range, vibration or moisture that can be experienced on the road. This also means that connectivity should be reliable beyond borders and support low latency for critical data sent from the vehicle.

Let’s take for example the case of a serious accident where a driver is unable to make a phone call. It is crucial that connectivity be not interrupted, so that the smart vehicle can automatically dial emergency services and ensure rapid assistance.

Delivering infotainment services

With the onset of new connected technologies such as streaming via mobile phones, car radios and built-in DVD players have become a vehicular staple of the past. Mobile streaming provides a seamless transition from consumer living rooms to the driver’s seat that is now expected of the modern driving experience. It’s therefore a commercial imperative for industry to come together and agree to work seamlessly toward connectivity protocols that can truly enhance infotainment services.

Over the last hundred years, the automotive industry has experienced piecemeal innovation. Now that the market is beginning to evolve quickly, we can’t allow division and regulatory uncertainty to impede efforts to deliver on the promise of connected cars.

V2X communication

By 2025, every new car should be securely connected with V2X; it will generate and transmit the data that will speed up the development of autonomous vehicles and improve the driving experience. Today’s driver-assistance systems, such as parking sensors and automatic braking, will pale in comparison. Full V2X will allow vehicles to communicate with all elements of the traffic system, from other vehicles and pedestrians, to street and traffic lights, lane markers and parking meters. And it will enable the sharing of information on speed, direction of travel, braking and turning, as well as road conditions, weather and traffic.

Standards are the bedrock of best practice and trust, to ensure that data emitted from around the city, including from other cars, can be relied upon. As technology evolves, so must the standards, lest they hinder interoperability and security. Until recently, industry and governments favoured the dedicated short-range communication standard (DSRC), an existing technology based on Wi-Fi, but now there’s a cellular technology called C-V2X using 5G that is pushing for standards to be revisited.

Trust must underpin everything

All these innovations that lead to development in the industry must be underpinned by trust. Trust, be it in the security in connecting the vehicle but also in securing data transmission, whilst ensuring user privacy.

Moreover, securing the driver and passenger for a safe autonomous driving experience is the basis on which the future of mobility can be built. Whatever the communication protocol selected for future V2X, a security-by-design approach, which puts security at the heart of every new product and component of the connected car, is a tried and tested method to protect users’ safety and privacy.

In fact, one key security component is to give a unique ID to a vehicle, which is strongly linked to a registered driver that can be securely authenticated. Another key element is to implement encryption and digital signature for any data transmitted. These advanced encryption-based security mechanisms leverage Public Key Certificates and encryption keys, which should be securely embedded into the roots of each vehicle, in the factory. These protect the transmission of data and ensure the integrity of messages communicated by authenticating the source, in order that the driver, car and infrastructure can trust each other. Every step of the data flow is protected, from over-the-air (OTA) software updates to transmission from vehicles.

With this, the IoT puzzle is almost completed. With smart connected services blossoming, the onus is on the transport industry to catch up with other sectors. By implementing security by design for automotive telematics, infotainment services and V2X communication, there’s no reason why industry can’t work together to establish the digital, connected future we all hope for.

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