event coverage

Fireside Chat: The Future of Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous vehicles aren't the only technology that poses cybersecurity challenges to the automobile industry, but they're clearly the centerpiece of that industry's future. Joe White (Transportation Editor, Thomson Reuters), spoke with Mark L. Reuss (Executive Vice President, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain, General Motors Company) and Professor Raj Rajkumar (George Westinghouse Professor, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Carnegie Mellon University) about the security implications and challenges of autonomous vehicles.

Reuss saw the big challenge of autonomous driving as safety, a point with which Rajkumar agreed. Rajkumar also noted that economics will favor car-sharing, and that the challenges of moving toward autonomous vehicles will be complex: spanning the technological, the sociological, and the legal.

Not all vehicles will be autonomous, Reuss said, certainly not in the near term. And so enabling autonomous vehicles to operate with human-driven cars is a challenge we must overcome. The validation plan is at least as challenging as the technology development. "For security," he said, "we need to enlist the white hat community." The automobile industry might look to the aerospace sector for lessons. Reuss sees the Boeing Dreamliner as a particularly interesting case study.

White asked his interlocutors for their prediction of when we'll see fully autonomous cars on the road. Reuss thought we might have fully autonomous cars available on a fully retail basis within ten years. Rajkumar modified this assessment to "at least ten years" for fully autonomous vehicles. But he thought we'd see autonomous vehicles with a human in them widely available within seven years.