Telematics WestCoast: Part One: Data, Liability, Venture Capital & Pitches

innovationTelematics West Coast is an event held in San Diego, California, that brings together connected car providers, analysts and technology experts to learn from each other. The first part of the day was packed with tons of information, discussions, contests, exhibitors and lunch. Each presentation offered insight in to the future of connected cars. Cars that are connected generate opportunities for automakers to provide services, updates, security, data for analysis and innovation. Automakers however are liable for their services even in the case of a malicious attack.

Connected is Expected as Part of the Package

The day started with Jeffrey S. Hannah, Director, SBD North America, who noted that drivers don’t want to pay for connectivity and that automakers are increasing how long they provide connected services for free. BMW is now offering ten years of free connectivity. GM offers five years of OnStar RemoteLink while Mercedes Benz gives five years of mBrace. Automakers can use apps and connectivity can help them save money on warranties, through vehicle health and using the data to track services to gain insight into customers.

OTA OTA OTA Security Security Security Autonomous Autonomous Autonomous

Moderator, David Taylor, CEO of Aupeo lead a panel ” Automakers Become Service Providers” during which major themes emerged on what major issues automakers are working on– Over-the-Air (OTA) updates, security and autonomous driving. Security must be  present for wireless connections and OTA updates. Autonomous driving will take longer than many predict because driving also perception of how people feel when the car is driving, noted one panelist because it someone is accustomed to driving, when the car takes over, it feels strange.

Since cars spenda about 11 years on the road and owned by first time buyer for six years, automakers could sell post sale upgrades of the software and the hardware, suggested Scott Kirchner, CTO Automotive Systems, Panasonic Automotive.

Who’s Liable for Software Vulnerabilities in Cars?

Bryant Walker Smith, Assistant Professor, University of South Carolina School of Law discussed responsibility for connected cars and brought up many legal issues for remote hacking and liabilities. Every state has different laws, however, law evolves and move across state lines with common theories. One state adopts a law and others follow. Liability will go as far up the supply train as far as it can be traced.

Liability for the automakers may be caused by something braking, bad design, not informing the driver how to use it, enabling bad behavior, misleading consumers, or promising more than delivered. Manufacturers are liable for injuries caused by flaws even when manufacturing reasonable. Smith notes that it is predictable the automakers will likely to be liable when vulnerabilities are exploited to cause arm, even if unavoidable. Manufactures will likely face class actions if their systems are especially vulnerable. Manufactures will likely have a de facto duty to update older systems.

Some defenses Smith suggests for automakers is to continue to offer OTA updates, manage risk dynamically and to continue finding ways to bring revenue beyond point of sale.

3G 4G & Beyond

For connectivity automakers have to deal with the ever-changing wireless industry. Robert Gee, Head of Product Management, Software and Connected Solutions, Continental noted that wireless data changes over time from 3G to 4G LTE. He also noted that 25% of United States is not covered by data. Next generation systems must be compatible with prior systems. Where coverage doesn’t exist, the  car must be independent, therefore there should be a hybrid, fallback approach for maintenance features such as USB drive updates. In the far off future, for longer life cycles of car infotainment systems, OTA updates and infotainment system smart displays that place the services and data on the back-end in the cloud be fresh continually. However, Gee doesn’t see that happening soon.

Big Car Data is Watching You to Pay for Services

Richard Barlow, Chief Executive Officer, Wejo gave an overview of what the company learned by creating a smartphone platform designed at first to reduce the price of car insurance. The smartphone app records what the driver does. He reported that it is tough to get people to share their data and it Wejo changed their business model. The company created an SDK to record data which can now be used with MirrorLink. One app is being used to help support a Flash Mob where cars drive single point and do performance art. The data behind the app shows the driver’s habits for retailers, servicing, car diagnostics. In fact, automaker can buy the data to study for the ADAS market. Eventually, Wejo hopes that when the drivers allows their data to used the price of car insurance could be reduced drastically.

Automakers Venture into Venture Capital, Innovation & Contests

Mark Platshon, Senior Advisor, BMW iVentures, explored how automakers can get more innovation in their products by supporting automotive start-ups and offering venture capital.

“Startups are ice breakers so that mother ship can follow behind” Platshon said while showing a photo of an ice breaking ship, but “It doesn’t work if the mother ship micromanages it.”

Platson suggests that for automakers to find disruptive opportunities, they can set up a venture groups. The  purpose of a venture group is to find innovators.

Another way to support start-ups is through pitches. Liz Kerton, Executive Director, Autotech Council was the master of ceremonies for  start-up pitches. She said that 18 automakers are now in the Silicon Valley. The Autotech Council receives hundreds and pitches as well as looks for new products when they are requested by automakers. The products pitched were:

  • Drivemode  is an app that shows an automotive interface designed to keep eyes on the road. The full version was launched in July.
  • Strobe-  Julie Schonenfeld explained the higher performance laser technology with lower costs by Dr. Lute Maleki. Strobe intends to change architecture to continous wave technology that is used by the military and place it on chip for a cost of about $100 as opposed to LiDAR that can be spoofed with laser pointer and can cost thousands of dollars.
  • Syndicated Maps is from a company that offers maps of photo enforced radar, data collected photo enforced. The next step is they want to collect data on dangerous intersections for drivers
  • 5D Robotics, showed wide wave positioning technology that has been used military robotics. Positioning is important. GPS is not good enough to tell if car is in the left turn lane. 5D offers enhanced GPS with peer-to-peer, 2CM accuracy at 100Hz update rate. 5D combines ultra wide-band (UWB) positioning with robotic behaviors to provide reliable, safe and accurate autonomous vehicles or heavy equipment.

The audience voted 5D Robotics as the best pitch.