Our cars, like our phones and our homes, are getting smarter and smarter. In the past year, hackers, mobile OS developers, and Tesla have provided us with some interesting (and sometimes scary) insights into how new tech making its way into our automobiles will shape the future.
Driverless Cars: Not Yet
We’ve been hyped about the potential for driverless cars, and indeed it sometimes seems as if they’ve been right on the horizon for the last couple of years. But our enthusiasm may have been a bit on the overblown side if the backlash for Tesla’s autopilot feature is anything to go by. While the company didn’t really overpromise on the option, it seemed like consumers heard what they wanted to hear. Instead of accepting that the option was a mere software upgrade intended to make commuting a bit more streamlined, drivers went out and did crazy and often dangerous stunts, like climbing into the backseat while the car was moving.
We’ll keep being amazed by driverless car development as it progresses, but after that fiasco we won’t be holding our breath. Obviously the technology needs to be way farther ahead if it’s going to approach anything like the truly driverless cars we’re so eager to see.
Cars Getting Hacked
Security gurus Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller had already shown they were capable of (mostly) harmlessly hacking into a car’s central computer, way back in 2013. But it seemed like car manufacturers didn’t learn their lessons after all, and in 2015, the two gleefully hacked into another vehicle. This time, they didn’t restrict themselves to fiddling with the volume control on the stereo. This stunt was much more frightening—like stalling a car deliberately while in the path of a semi. Well, that got their message across. Fiat Chrysler responded with an absolutely massive recall. Other hackers decided to get in on the game and demonstrate what they were able to do.
As of yet, there hasn’t been a malicious example of car hacking, but the very fact that it’s doable should be a cause for concern.
Why this has taken so long, we don’t know. Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto are finally taking over as the operating systems of choice for in-dash control panels. Thank goodness, because we were truly getting tired of the auto manufacturers’ attempts at designing their own platforms. Perhaps the delay was due to manufacturers being unwilling to allow Android and iOS developers access to their systems.
If so, it seems that their concerns were slightly misplaced, seeing as how their native systems are the ones getting hacked. In fact, that may be why we’re finally seeing true smartphone integration—carmakers want to turn some security responsibilities over to someone else.
Consumers don’t seem to care what the reasoning is, they’re just happy it’s finally happening. Exceptional navigation, phone, and music options pair perfectly with the driver’s personal smart device for a seamless experience.