Within ten years or so, nearly two thirds of all cars on the road will be Internet-connected. So what are the advantages and drawbacks of a connected vehicle?

Connected Cars: Better Driving Experience but Systems Security Risks

By 2025, 60% of all the cars on the road will be connected to the Internet, according to a recent analysis by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), a professional association dedicated to advancing technological innovation and excellence. Jeffrey Miller, IEEE member and Associate Professor in the Computer Systems Engineering department at the University of Alaska, Anchorage, believes that “widespread adoption of connected cars will allow consumers to treat their vehicles as just another one of their devices (…) and purchasing data packages from wireless providers will be commonplace in the future.” However, while the spread of connected technologies in the automotive sector looks set to bring about safer driving conditions, many experts are still concerned about the risks.

Potential vulnerability to hackers

Vehicle-to-vehicle communication promises to make driving safer and more pleasant. Vehicles – and their drivers – will automatically be informed of hazardous weather conditions or congested roadways so that they can reroute. “Because of these features, human error will nearly be removed from driving,” predicts Christoph Stiller, an IEEE member and Professor at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany. However, connected cars are likely to become increasingly vulnerable to malicious software hacks. Moreover, a high degree of interconnectivity between vehicle networks means that a breach in one network may cause havoc in another. In order to combat this, manufacturers need to begin putting firewalls in place to restrict access from integrated systems, IEEE experts underline.

Next step: autonomous vehicles

In fact the IEEE predicts that, as dependence on connected devices in daily life increases, consumer demand for completely automated vehicles will also grow. According to the Institute’s report, 75% of all cars on the road will be autonomous by 2040. Traditional vehicle manufacturer Nissan has pledged to deliver ‘Autonomous Drive’ technologies in its mass production vehicles by 2020. Meanwhile web giants such as Google and Cisco Systems have not failed to spot the opportunities which this rising trend offers them. Google has already been testing fully autonomous cars, while Cisco is teaming up with automotive supplier Continental to provide auto-makers with connected car technology.

By Ruolin Yang