Self-driving trucks beat cars for safety and cybersecurity
Editor’s note: Written by David Mor Ofek, Product Manager at C2A Security. This is part of a series of periodic guest columns written by industry thought leaders.
On the road to safety and cybersecurity, self-driving trucks overtake self-driving cars
For the audiovisual industry, the quest to bring autonomous vehicles into the real world has been a long journey marked by myriad twists and turns. Now, self-driving vehicle developers are pursuing a more direct route to their goal, not with cars navigating city streets, but rather trucks traveling long distances on highways. In the quest to get AVs on the road quickly and safely, highways promise a direct jab at success, and self-driving trucks are taking the lead.
Trucking, driving the economy
Given the huge impact the trucking industry has on our economy, this strategy makes sense. Most industries depend on trucking, including manufacturing, construction, retail, and restaurants. And of course, the remarkable growth of e-commerce could not have happened without the trucks that deliver online purchases. According to a report by the American Trucking Associations, in 2019 trucks transported more than 70% of the total tonnage shipped in the United States. .
Testing self-driving trucks
TuSimple began testing a fleet of 40 autonomous tractor-trailers on the highways of Texas, New Mexico and Arizona in 2020. TuSimple is testing its Level 4 technology, developed specifically for trucks, with its partners Navistar and UPS, among others.
“Safety drivers” are always on board during these “supervised autonomy” tests. Trucks are delivered to the starting point (“first mile”) and picked up at the end (“last mile”). The “middle mile” along the highway is easier for AVs to navigate than secondary roads and city streets. A TuSimple truck traveled 951 miles from Arizona to Oklahoma in 14 hours, 10 hours faster than any human driver.
They are not the first. Waymo has been road testing automated trucks in California and the Southwest since 2017; Kodiak Robotics has been testing in Texas since 2019. “We’re optimizing our technology specifically for highways,” said Kodiak Robotics co-founder and CEO Don Burnette. “We envision a model where self-driving trucks focus on those long, lonely highway miles while leaving first-mile pickup and last-mile delivery to the traditional human driver.”
AV security depends on cybersecurity
Since self-driving trucks never stop to eat or sleep, self-driving trucking may be faster, safer, and more economical than driver-driven trucking, but it’s also more vulnerable to cyberattacks. Electrical and electronic systems are increasingly digitized, making vehicles easier targets. Without a driver behind the wheel, AVs run a greater risk of losing control. The risk is even greater when self-driving trucks hit the road. Cybersecurity is crucial.
Cyberattacks on trucking are already happening. In April 2020, hackers demanded a ransom from a Massachusetts recycling truck owner, posting sensitive data online and shutting down the business for a week. In May 2020, hackers deleted the backup files of a Georgian trucking company and encrypted others, “in fact [wiping] all the server pulled out. It took two weeks to clean up the chaos.
Perhaps more worryingly, security researchers last year identified 19 security flaws in Mercedes-Benz E-Class cars that allow hackers to unlock doors and start engines remotely. The researchers found flaws in the connectivity architecture of these non-autonomous cars, including infotainment systems and backend servers. Parent company Daimler said it fixed the vulnerabilities.
Harmonize a fragmented supply chain
We can expect more challenges ahead as OEMs, Tier 1 companies and other vendors integrate cybersecurity tools into vehicles. On the one hand, a new WP.29 regulation and a new ISO/SAE 21434 standard each call for comprehensive and collaborative solutions that span the entire supply chain. But the supply chain is fragmented. And cybersecurity teams struggle to communicate and coordinate tasks effectively and efficiently throughout the vehicle lifecycle. Fortunately, new technologies now offer an answer, combining sophisticated connected computing platforms with equally sophisticated cybersecurity solutions.
A comprehensive, end-to-end automotive cybersecurity lifecycle management platform combines three key capabilities: visibility, control, and protection. This simplifies in-vehicle cybersecurity management, harmonizes communications across the supply chain, and automates threat identification and prevention. Manufacturers benefit from unparalleled transparency across the entire cybersecurity lifecycle, streamlining every step: risk assessment, planning, policy creation and enforcement.
The size and weight of a loaded truck is formidable. It’s unsettling to imagine an autonomous truck hitting the highway with the slightest chance of losing total control. If the future success of AV vehicles hinges on trucks, then breakthrough cybersecurity technology that evolves in a changing world couldn’t be more important.
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Trucks.com November 15, 2021
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