(p. D2) The real lesson in VW’s scandal — in which the automaker installed “defeat devices” that showed the cars emitting lower emissions in lab tests than they actually did — is not that our cars are stuffed with too much technology. Instead, the lesson is that there isn’t enough tech in vehicles.
In fact, the faster we upgrade our roads and autos with better capabilities to detect and analyze what’s going on in the transportation system, the better we’ll be able to find hackers, cheaters and others looking to create havoc on (p. B11) the highways.
. . .
“What happened at Volkswagen had to do with embedded software that’s buried deep in the car, and only the supplier knows what’s in it — and it’s a black box for everybody else,” said Stefan Heck, the founder of Nauto, a new start-up that is introducing a windshield-mounted camera that monitors road conditions for commercial fleets and consumers. The camera uses artificial intelligence to track traffic conditions; over time, as more vehicles use it, it could provide users with traffic and safety information plus data about mileage and other automotive functions.
The end goal for intelligent-car systems, said Dr. Heck, is to create an on-road network with data that is constantly being analyzed to get a sharper picture of what’s happening on the road. Sure, companies might still be able to cheat. But with enough independent data sources coming from different places on the road, it would become much more difficult.
He said there really isn’t any going back — software in cars is responsible not just for driver comforts like in-dash navigation, but also for critical safety and performance systems, many of which improve the car’s environmental footprint.
For the full commentary, see:
Farhad Manjoo. “STATE OF THE ART; Our Cars Need More Technology.” The New York Times (Thurs., Oct. 1, 2015): B1 & B11.
(Note: ellipsis added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date SEPT. 30, 2015, and the title “STATE OF THE ART; VW Scandal Shows a Need for More Tech, Not Less.” )