Weekly Brief: Carmakers unite behind "Auto ISAC" to improve cyber security

In this week’s Brief: Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, 2015 SAE Battelle CyberAuto Challenge, BMW, Ford, GM, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Toyota, VW, Volvo, Global Automakers, Honda, Ferrari, Hyundai, Subaru, Kia, Nissan, Booz Allen Hamilton, Truck Safety Act, Zubie, Automatic, Geotab, Navistar, GM Opel, flinc, BMW DriveNow, Ford Peer-2-Peer Car Sharing, Mobileye, New Zealand Transport Agency initiated and the Boston Marathon bombings.


Remember that spate of high-profile auto cyber hacking cases earlier this year that embarrassed everyone from GM to Jaguar Land Rover to BMW? Carmakers banded together last week to create a new U.S.-based Information Sharing and Analysis Centre (Auto ISAC) that will help mitigate the risk of a repeat moving forward.


Some of the details surrounding the centre are still murky — where it will be located and which carmakers will participate, for example — but Robert Strassburger, vice president of vehicle safety at the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, said at the 2015 SAE Battelle CyberAuto Challenge that the ISAC will be operational by the end of 2015. It will serve as a central hub for intelligence and analysis, providing timely sharing of cyber threat information and potential vulnerabilities in motor vehicle electronics or associated in–vehicle networks.


The Alliance’s members include the U.S. divisions of BMW, Ford, GM, Jaguar Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Toyota, VW and Volvo, so one can assume those brands will be on-board. A second organisation, Global Automakers, is also in on the ASAC, and its members include Honda, Ferrari, Hyundai, Subaru, Kia and Nissan.


Consulting and engineering firm Booz Allen Hamilton is currently working with the two organisation’s companies to identify the structure, scope, governance, operating procedures and policies for the Auto ISAC. We’ll keep you posted as we learn more.


In other news, U.S. senators introduced new legislation that seeks to modernise truck safety standards on American roadways. In addition to requiring fleets to carry higher levels of insurance and to limit commuting hours, the Truck Safety Act would mandate that trucks adopt collision avoidance systems in the form of forward collision warning systems and lane departure warnings systems, thus making rear-end collisions less likely. The legislation would also mandate speed limiting devices.


“We can significantly reduce the number of accidents on our nation’s highways by harnessing new technologies, and better protect victims of truck accidents by raising insurance minimums for trucks that haven’t changed in over 30 years,” said Senator Cory Booker, one of the legislation’s proponents.


It was a good week for third-party app developers interested in the connected car space.


First, Zubie, the company that provides customers smartphone updates about their vehicle diagnostics, launched an open application programming interface (API) that allows any developer to access vehicle diagnostic, location and driving data generated by Zubie devices. The goal is to foster new apps that help individuals drive more safely and smartly (fuel economy or ridesharing apps, for example) and that create new efficiencies for businesses. Zubie’s attempt to transform from a standard telematics service to an app platform mirrors that of competitor Automatic, which launched an app store back in May 2015.


Next came fleet management company Geotab, which unveiled its own app store for third-party stand alone apps and Geotab add-ons. “The Geotab Marketplace” is on pace to have upward of 200 apps come year end. Apps already available include a vision-based advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) that provides real-time warnings for collision prevention, corporate fuel card purchase auditing and driver training safety solutions. Geotab says Navistar is one of the big names already on-board with the marketplace.


On the ridesharing front, GM Opel was back at it again last week, this time acquiring a minority share in the app-based ridesharing platform flinc. Opel’s new carsharing app CarUnity allows car owners to share their cars and get paid for it no matter the car brand (a distinguishing factor from, say, BMW’s DriveNow or Ford’s Peer-2-Peer Car Sharing). Opel says that the technology used for flinc will play an important part in extending CarUnity throughout Europe and in transforming Opel from a product manufacturer to a provider of networked mobility.


Ziv Aviram, CEO of Dutch ADAS provider Mobileye, said that a carmaker will introduce high-speed, autonomous cruise control to consumers this year. Which carmaker, Ziv? He wouldn’t say, although Audi is a pretty safe bet since the carmaker is a Mobileye partner and has proved one of the most ardent ADAS implementers. Aviram said that the feature would be based on Mobileye software and on-board chips and that three additional auto OEMs would have high-speed adaptive cruise control implemented by 2016. For more TU analysis, see here.


Add New Zealand to the list of countries actively seeking to attract self-driving cars. The government’s transport minister was hobnobbing with Google’s driverless car project team at Google’s Mountain View campus last week, while back home the New Zealand Transport Agency initiated research to determine how ready the country is for its first pilots. It’s not only a safety issue, of course. Countries are also eager to create local jobs and perhaps even manufacturing opportunities, if they’re favorable enough of a location.


Finally, telematics played a vital role in catching the terrorists behind the Boston Marathon bombings two years ago. As you may recall, the first major terrorist attack on American soil post 9/11 set off a massive manhunt for brothers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. They were eventually tracked down in a Mercedes-Benz ML350 SUV, which they had high-jacked from a cab driver. Turns out, as revealed last week at Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial, the cabbie told the police that there was an mbrace telematics system in his car; Mercedes officials quickly pinged the vehicle’s location and relayed it to law enforcement.


The Weekly Brief is a round-up of the week’s top telematics news, combining TU analysis with information from industry press releases.


Andrew Tolve is a regular TU contributor.


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