DAV Foundation’s Frazer: Open-Source AVs Could “Comfort” Regulators

Greg Hyde talks to DAV Foundation co-founder and chief communications officer John Frazer about the security implications of his start-up’s open-source network for autonomous vehicles.

AV development can at times seem increasingly dependent on robotics technology and out of the control of the average citizen. However, the DAV (Decentralized Autonomous Vehicles) Foundation claims its open-source network will give prospective AV occupants “control over the pace and direction of AV innovation”.

In an exclusive TU-Automotive interview, Frazer said he did not think there would need to be greater involvement from regulators in order to ensure this “control” would not fall into the wrong hands. He claimed the start-up’s open-source network could even provide “comfort” to regulators, as it would provide them with increased transparency with regards to AV tech development.



Q: If the AV sector as a whole eventually becomes more generally controlled by open-source networks, do you think there will then need to be greater regulation of it by national governments?

“I think we can draw a parallel with the web here. Mobility operations in any given jurisdiction will be governed by the regulators in those jurisdictions. Just like how China controls the content that its population may access on the web, Argentina will have its own rules about autonomous drones, ride-hailing services, autonomous road vehicles, and the like. I cannot see there being a need for greater regulation just because the services are offered over open-source networks. In fact, the open-source nature of DAV could be a source of comfort for regulators, as they can see exactly what’s under the hood.”

Q: Do you think making AVs more operable via an open-source network throws up the risks of AVs being used for criminal, possibly violent acts? What authentication procedures does the DAV Foundation have in place to ensure criminals do not get access to its network?

“I think in any environment criminal acts are a possibility. Technology in and of itself is not good or evil, it is merely a tool that conforms to a role determined by the user.”

“Open-source projects have a distinct advantage with regard to security though. The more eyes that review code, the less likely a bug or loophole will persist for bad actors to exploit, and open-source code can have millions of pairs of eyes looking it over.”

“The DAV Foundation is not trying to solve every problem in the mobility economy. Our focus is on the network and common marketplace, and the three primary functions (discovery, communication, transactions) of the network. We are confident that there are some very clever people solving security and authentication challenges for their part in the space. The DAV network is open to all – no one needs our permission to use it and there is no fee to use the network either. Much like on the web, where websites shoulder the task of authenticating users, service providers on the DAV network will be the ones who are best suited to face security challenges head-on.”

Q: Do you think open-source AV networks will provide a seamless experience for the consumer?

“The mainstream consumer will probably never hear of the DAV protocol, just as the average user on the web knows nothing about TCP/IP or even HTML. At the end of the day, the average consumer’s experience with the DAV network and mobility-as-a-service will be limited to interacting with an app on their mobile device and with whatever form of transport they have engaged.”


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