The Autonomous Vehicle: A Look Through History

the autonomous vehicle in action

The wave of the future

The autonomous vehicle, or self-driving car, has become the focus of the automotive world. More and more, you hear that the connected car is the answer to a variety of transportation ills. From Google to Volvo to Ford to Uber and Lyft, the industry of moving you from one place to another is working feverishly to make the once science fiction dream of a driverless vehicle a reality. However, this seemingly 21st century innovation has not only been in people’s minds for centuries, but attempts and working prototypes have been pursued across the ages.

What exactly is an autonomous vehicle?

The autonomous vehicle label has become quite the buzz. But what makes a regular, everyday car into a self-driving connected car? An autonomous vehicle is any car that drives itself through a set of computerized controls hardwired into the automobile’s brain or electronic control unit (ECU). The idea has been the stuff of dreams since as far back as the great Leonardo da Vinci with his horseless carriage idea, an invention meant as a novelty to surprise and delight attendants of festivals during renaissance times that would take centuries to figure out how to build.

While there have been several attempts throughout the years to make a self-driving, fully autonomous car come to life, success has been elusive. However, the interest has never wavered and the automotive world and general public became even more energized with a look into the future that sent minds reeling at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York.

General Motors and dreams of innovation

World's Fair map

Road map for 1939 New York World’s Fair

General Motors (GM) is no stranger to vehicle innovation. It was the first automaker to envision a type of autonomous technology with the presentation of a computerized navigation system for its cars known as Driver Aid, Information and Routing System (DAIR) back in 1966. The ambitious yet unwieldy invention would lead to the creation of OnStar in the 1980s. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that GM presented their idea of the self-driving car at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York.

The Futurama bird's eye view

The Futurama, GM’s vision

The tagline of the storied pre-World War II extravaganza was “The World of Tomorrow.” Hundreds of thousands of visitors flocked to the extraordinary promise of a unique and technologically advanced horizon shown throughout the fairgrounds. GM’s pavilion featured the most popular attraction called The Futurama, a ride that took visitors through what life would be like in the year 1960. While the exhibit was more about urban planning and creating a highway system—which wouldn’t become reality until 1956—tiny radio controlled cars that automatically kept their distance from each other were presented on the roads, a precursor to adaptive cruise control and autonomous vehicle technology. This future vision was crafted by mercurial theatre and industrial designer, Norman Bel Geddes. While 1960 has come and gone and the glorious, smooth driving fully autonomous future has yet to be realized, the commitment to and belief in a driverless world is stronger and more pervasive than ever.

Why self-driving car technology matters?

Driving a car is essential to many people’s lives. Getting behind the wheel of an automobile and transporting yourself, others and supplies or equipment for work, play or charity, have led to the continued—albeit sometimes shaky—growth of what is now a multi-trillion dollar automotive industry. The automobile has been in consumer use since Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler created their vehicle empire in 1895 then made even more accessible when Henry Ford turned what was basically a luxury item into something the masses could afford. These horseless carriages have dominated the transportation industry ever since and incorporating autonomous technology to create self-driving cars has been a goal that may well have been prompted by Leonardo’s self-propelled carriage over five centuries ago.

The “Linrrican Wonder,” a 1926 Chandler rigged with a transmitting antenna, became the first documented case of a “driverless car” that same year. It “drove” through the streets of New York City while controlled by a follow vehicle. Having a tracking car may seem to negate the fully autonomous goal of a driverless vehicle, but the Linrrican Wonder maneuvered on a public road in the most populous city in America even back then, giving hope to the automotive industry of a future it continues to fervently pursue to this day.

Huge strides continue to be made in the world of self-driving cars which are propelled by 3 major issues on the road today: traffic congestion, road fatalities and environmental impact. But will driverless cars really alleviate all of these problems?

Alleviating gridlock

autonomous vehicles to help with gridlock

Photo By Hikosaemon via Wikimedia Commons

There’s a two-pronged effect here with autonomous vehicles. Shared self-driving cars lead to less automobiles on the road. Also, operator error causes the bulk of traffic accidents which then leads to even more traffic congestion—slowing down to rubberneck, lane closures, etc. Autonomous vehicle technology incorporates such systems as collision avoidance and adaptive cruise control to create both safer conditions and smart distance between cars.  These two together allow the vehicles to keep pace with and from each other in ways that keep the flow of traffic consistently moving.

Staying alive on the road

autonomous vehicles to address safe driving

2015 saw 35,200 car-related deaths in the U.S. alone. This staggering number has prompted the Department of Transportation (DOT) to push for policies that more actively regulate self-driving car research and development. Human error accounts for 94% of all fatalities on the highway and implementing innovative vehicle technology in the form of fully autonomous smart cars is felt to be the answer. Again, collision avoidance systems play an integral part in keeping passengers safe and lowering traffic fatalities and accidents in general.

Lower emissions and better fuel efficiency

autonomous vehicles programmed for better fuel efficiency

An autonomous car is designed to be more fuel efficient not only by the mere fact that many use alternative fuels, but the way they travel in conjunction with other vehicles and on the road in general. These vehicles are built to move in such a way that they make the best use of their fuel and brake/accelerate more strategically, thereby reducing whatever gas emissions they produce or drain on a power cell. Traditional and adaptive cruise control (ACC) acts as a strategic partner in supporting this by automatically maintaining an ecologically friendly rate of speed.

The ins and outs of self-driving car technology

What makes a self-driving car drive itself? It’s a combination of a variety of interfaces and connections. Per engineering professor, Sridhar Lakshmanam of University of Michigan—Dearborn, three things are needed to make an everyday vehicle successfully navigate a public road autonomously: a GPS, a system that reads road conditions, and a processor that takes all of that data and turns it into action.

how an autonomous vehicle works

The technology behind autonomous vehicles

The GPS needed is pretty much the same type of system used today. It provides a basic view of maps and where the car can go. Radar and lidar sensors are instrumental in the system that can see road conditions as are on-board cameras.

Radar uses radio waves to distinguish what is going on around the car while a lidar sensor uses lasers to detect the environment, obstacles and more by sending out a series of light pulses at specific intervals to pick up external information. These combine with the on-board cameras to take all of the information of what is going on around the vehicle—the environment and dynamic situations—and send it to the brain so the car can actually react—brake, accelerate, turn, etc.—accordingly.

On-board cameras also contribute to the successful operation of autonomous vehicles. These visually capture the conditions and potential hazards of the road in real time and process that information through sophisticated computer software. The car’s brain then takes that and

Part of this smart communication is vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) interaction. The ability for cars to speak with each other will help in making this driverless future a safe reality. Per the National highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) one automobile can relay various “important safety and mobility information” to another, thereby supporting the three goals mentioned above: alleviate gridlock, save lives and lower emissions. And with safe future comes changes to government.

The ups (and downs) of the autonomous vehicle

Due to the nature of less human interaction,  an autonomous vehicle means fewer parking and moving violations, which provide a good chunk of money into local and state agency coffers. However, the safety and strengthening of the transportation systems save government and taxpayers money and lives. The Brookings Institute breaks it down as follows:

  • An estimated $10 billion per year saved by taxpayers due to the public shouldering the bill for seven percent of vehicle crash costs
  • A savings of $100 billion per year due to the elimination of congestion, damages to infrastructure and resources spent on road improvement.
  • Cutting travel times by sending vehicles to better road options which saves on the cost of fixing roadways and bridges
  • An overall estimated savings of $211 billion a year to state, local and federal governments

With all of this possibility, however, it begs the question: just how ready is the public to hand over the controls they’ve come to know with their automobiles?

The steering wheel (gear shift, pedals…): to be or not to be?

will autonomous vehicles need what drivers are used to?

As mentioned, the motor car is the most influential mode of transportation in the world. It is a staple of modern life and a symbol of autonomy, even in its purest form. Part of that comes from the ability of everyday humans to have total control over their automobile by being able to steer it themselves and operate the different gears and pedals to make it run. But in a fully autonomous, self-driving car, is it really necessary to have all of those accouterment?

Per a recent Kelley Blue Book poll, most Americans couldn’t even begin to imagine embracing a fully autonomous vehicle—called a Level 5 by both NHTSA and Kelley Blue Book. 80 percent of those polled believe human drivers need to have the ability to operate their car and 64 percent claimed they need to be the ones driving their automobiles, not some technology. While there are ranges of feelings about actually using the self-driving capability—short jaunts were felt to need operator control while autonomous vehicle technology would be welcome on long road trips—the space for human intervention in the midst of unforeseen circumstances is still felt to be necessary.

Different levels of autonomy

As mentioned, both the NHTSA and Kelley Blue Book have identified 5 stages of autonomy for cars. Both adhere to the levels as outlined by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International. They breakdown as follows:

Level 0: No Automation

The human driver has full control of the car, even if there are upgrades and technological advances in the vehicle. The person behind the wheel is the one who reacts to every situation.

Level 1: Driver Assistance

Most of the operation is handled by the driver. Some, however, like braking, can be automatically managed by the car through the data it retrieves from road conditions.

Level 2: Partial Automation

Again, the human controls most aspects of the vehicle, but some things like cruise control or lane correction are automatically handled by the vehicle as well as acceleration and deceleration based on the information gathered about the drive. The person behind the wheel, however, is expected to be the primary operator, managing the rest of the manipulation of the car as well as taking over from the automated functions should the situation arise.

Level 3: Conditional Automation

Pretty much every task a driver would perform is handled by an automated system. However, here there is the ability for the human to take control when their intervention is requested by the computer.

Level 4: High Automation

There are still a steering wheel, gas and brake pedal, and a gear shift in this level, but all of the driving is automated and there is a failsafe should the driver fail to engage when the system asks for their assistance.

Level 5: Full Automation

The car is completely automated and prepared to handle all road conditions and situations that can and will arise during the ride. The driver is turned into passenger and their assistance is not requested nor needed.

As you can see, these last three levels move from minimal mechanical driver assistance—a human operator maintains control while the car has certain enhancements to help make their drive smoother and safer— into an area where the vehicle is now actually monitoring the driving environment and reacting automatically. This is a future leap that is available in limited models for Level 3 and in test phase with fleet vehicles in levels 4 and 5 under controlled conditions on public roads —Google self-drive now known as Waymo and Uber, for example.

Paving the road to the future

The road to the future

The initial estimate of when driverless cars will truly be on the road is 2050. However, with Ford embracing the autonomous vehicle movement rather than fighting it, Baidu in California, and much more, “The World of Tomorrow” may be just around the corner. The progress to a more dynamic driverless future is constant, so keep your eyes on the road ahead.

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In-Car Infotainment: Changing the Driving Experience

the possibilities of in-car infotainment systems

The automobile of today is digitally enhanced, navigation system ready and virtually self-driving. These advances lead the majority of drivers to expect the same engagement from their cars as they do from their smartphones. That’s why automakers from Fiat-Chrysler (UConnect) to Hyundai (BlueLink) are focused on and offer in-car infotainment systems that keep drivers and passengers engaged and connected on the road. Being entertained and communicating with whomever and whatever you want with a swipe of a finger or simply speaking a phrase is considered the standard by which all in-car infotainment (also called in-vehicle infotainment) is based, but the experience has been around a long, innovative time.

What is in-car infotainment?

In its simplest terms, a vehicle infotainment system is the hardware and technology that allow drivers and passengers to experience audio/visual in-car entertainment while inside a vehicle. Today we view it as hands-free calling, touch screens giving us access to different music interfaces, backseat displays with built in DVD players or wireless streaming capability, and voice recognition/commands. And yes, all of that is in-car infotainment for the 21st century, but the first true vehicle infotainment was offered over 80 years ago and has been steadily evolving ever since.


William Lear teams up with Paul and Joseph Galvin to develop the first dashboard mono-radio for a car, calling it the “Motorola” for “motorized Victrola.” It was the 5T71 installed in a Studebaker–sold separately, of course. The cost? $130, which would be approximately $1788 today. Just to give a bit of context, the average car was selling for $540 at that time, or approximately $7426 in today’s dollars. That’s almost ¼ of the total cost of buying the car.


The British Crossley Motors–not to be confused with the Crosley Turntable or Crosley automobile–becomes the first car to be equipped with a factory standard radio.

1956 and 1960

1956 Chrysler attempts turntables for in-car infotainment

1956 Chrysler Windsor

Chrysler contributes to in-car entertainment with offers of record players–actual turntables—in the automobile first in the 1956 model year. The limitations of not only playability, but the kind of music available (only Columbia Recording artists) saw the idea scrapped at the end of that year. Chrysler tried again, however, in 1960 this time with a different system. Again, the player kept skipping, as with the first model, and lasted until 1962.


8-track tape stereos get installed into cars

Ford partners with Motorola to install eight-track tape players in their cars.

Early 1970s

Aftermarket car stereos take off, welcoming in the era of the Alpine, Blaupunkt, Kenwood and Pioneer brands.


cassette tape player becomes the new in-car infotainment

Vintage in-dash cassette tape player

Cassette players trump the eight-track with their smaller, writeable format–say hello to the mixtape.


The CD rears its head, signaling the beginning of the end for cassette players in general and showing a decrease in those for cars.


Mercedes-Benz becomes the first company to install CD players at the factory

Mercedes-Benz comes off the line with the first factory installed in-dash CD player (Becker’s Mexico).


Touchscreens make their way into the Buick Riviera, allowing drivers to change their radio stations by tapping their fingers rather than turning a knob or pushing buttons.

Early 1990s to the mid-2000s

More and more technology starts to be included in cars. Navigation systems become more the norm and satellite radio is introduced to expand listening options.


In-car technology, Ford Sync, is introduced, enabling hands-free calling and voice-controlled music choice.


the last OEM to include the in-dash cassette player as in-car infotainment

The Lexus SC430 becomes the last OEM to offer a cassette tape deck in the car.


A Ferrari FF is the first car to fully integrate the Apple CarPlay app.

Brought to life thanks to human machine interface

In-car infotainment owes its existence to telematics and human machine interface (HMI). HMI systems combine software and hardware to bridge the human with automated programs. HMIs do this through specialized software or panels. It’s the connection that allows you and I to talk to and control those displays that make things happen in our cars.

The push for more in-vehicle infotainment devices is driving growth in the HMI sector, per the Global Automotive Human Machine Interface (HMI) Market 2015-2019 report. Much of that expansion comes from the public’s ever growing desire for more connectivity on the road and an avid interest in accessing what infotainment has to offer.

OEM and aftermarket vehicle infotainment systems

The connected car is bringing forth an immersive experience like never before. We’ve come a long way from the mono-radio being the singular form of in-car infotainment. And just as back in the days when we wanted to either upgrade our older car with the newest, coolest removable CD player or splurge on a newer model with a top-of-the-line factory installed stereo system, we can experience this via two different types of devices–OEM and aftermarket.


You may recall in our article outlining telematics in which we discussed the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). In the car world, this means the automaker has installed whatever feature into the vehicle there at the factory. Here are two examples of OEM infotainment systems available now:

Fiat-Chrysler UConnect 8.4

FCA no. 1 in-car infotainment per Consumer Reports

Per Consumer Reports, this is the standout of the factory installed in-car infotainment systems. The touchscreen is user-friendly and successfully incorporates Bluetooth and voice recognition/commands capability along with traditional knobs and buttons.

Hyundai Blue Link

Hyundai offers top notch in-car infotainment

The Blue Link also brings together an easy to read and use touch screen and knob control. It is standard in all Hyundais that are model year 2015 and newer.


Items that are aftermarket are those things that are installed and/or purchased for your vehicle post-sale–basically, non-OEM. There are a few ways you can connect these devices to your car–via Bluetooth, USB or replace your head unit with a brand new, high-tech infotainment device. Again, we’re sharing two of the top examples of aftermarket infotainment systems:

Pioneer Avic-8200NEX

This Pioneer unit is considered by many to trump the quality of today’s factory in-car infotainment system. Features include both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a way to switch between the two, a 7-inch touchscreen, CD and DVD playability, and everything an OEM infotainment system offers.

JBL Legend CP100

This simple, straightforward unit allows you to link your smartphone to your in-car infotainment via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It plays off of whatever smartphone apps you have as well as connects you to your vehicle’s parking cameras and steering wheel buttons.

Apple CarPlay & Android Auto

Apple CarPlay in action

These two platforms give you a dynamic in-car infotainment experience by allowing smartphone functionality across various car screens. Approximately 100 vehicle models support either one or both of these programs. However, older model cars cannot interface with them without an aftermarket infotainment unit.

Android Auto assists with navigating

But what exactly do these platforms offer? Apple CarPlay and Android Auto gain you access the same things for which you use your mobile device through your vehicle’s built-in display. Instead of taking your eyes off the road to plug in a phone number, go to a navigation app or bring up your music, you can use voice recognition/commands or interact with a display that is more eye level. This creates a safer ride.

Haptics and the effect on the human-to-car interaction

While we don’t spend as much time in our cars as we think we do–our automobiles are dormant 95% of the time–drivers have come to expect to be as engaged as they are in their homes. This has led to a much more expansive human-to-machine experience in our vehicles.

Got a road trip with the kids? A rear seat entertainment screen makes for a more relaxed ride. Want the ability to make and take mobile calls or browse your music safely? Voice recognition and infotainment systems that react to voice commands allow you to keep your hands on the wheels and eyes on the road while connecting with others or getting your jam on. New displays are becoming even safer with the addition of haptic feedback or haptics.

the space in which haptics live

To explain haptic feedback, imagine a typical touchscreen experience. You press your finger on the display, feel only smooth glass, see the button or key you touched light up or slide or simply hope it’s doing something. This means you have to get visual information, keeping your eyes on it, not the road, creating a safety hazard. But with haptics, you feel your display respond through a sense of pressure, vibrations or motion. By adding this technology to your infotainment system means your glance time–the measure by which you look away from the road–decreases.

Haptics go beyond infotainment systems to just about anything you, as a user and driver, can control in your car. For all of these in-car technology innovations, however, the effect of infotainment on the driving experience–good and bad–are leading to a great many conversations.

Changing the state of the driving experience

One of the clearest benefits of in-car infotainment is how it enhances the driving experience. Whether it’s the ability to be fully hands-off with voice recognition/commands or providing more salient vehicle information than was available before, smarter cars create better prepared drivers. Another is the way it keeps eyes on the road for a safer, more connected commute. The heads-up display (HUD) is available on more vehicles as standard, and not just in premium styles like BMW and Lexus. Most models have information projected on the windshield while some, like the 2016 Mini Cooper, offer a retractable screen that rises from the dash when the driver needs it. All of the options are crafted to allow for eye level interface that lowers glance time.

the world the connected car sees

There are some concerns over these immersive systems, however. Cyber-security and the possibility of having your car hacked while connected to your smartphone are a big issue. The software that allows the communication between your in-car infotainment system and mobile device leaves your vehicle open to remote attacks. Researchers at both George Mason and New York University discovered this anomaly and outlined potential security risks in some models.

Distracted driving is another worry that has arisen from the in-car infotainment explosion and connected cars, in general. While some believe the smarter automobiles actually cut down on driver error, others feel these innovations are akin to having a television set or entire computer at your fingertips as you motor down the highway. Per the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, “Fiddling with an in-car infotainment system can leave a driver distracted for as long as 27 seconds.” At 25 mph, that is the same as traveling the length of three football fields blindfolded. This is, of course, the worst case scenario, but it is something safety experts and carmakers are working together on as these units are designed.

The look of tomorrow

in-car infotainment in tomorrow's connected car

The connected car is here, growing stronger, and in-car infotainment systems are part of that. Whether OEM or aftermarket, these innovations are creating a more immersive driving experience and making the human-to-machine interaction safer and more dynamic. Standard models are beginning to offer this technology as part of their package and only time will tell if it helps drivers stay more focused on the road or not.


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Car Hacking: Safeguarding Your Connected Car

the console of a connected car in the middle of a car hacking

the dangers of car hacking

Computer viruses are nothing new. The brutal lessons learned from those who’ve survived them make us more cautious when surfing the digital wave on our devices. But how often do we think of our vehicles as motorized computers? Today’s automobiles include operating systems that provide climate control, fuel efficiency, satellite-based entertainment, automated safety features and more. Basically, we’re driving smartphones on wheels, something we tend to forget. Our vehicles are more connected than ever and with the automotive industry constantly innovating, they will only become more so. Because of this sophistication, concerns about the strange new cyber threat of car hacking are being raised.

Yes, we know car hacking isn’t exactly new. And other than a disgruntled former Texas car dealership employee’s remotely bricking 100+ vehicles to set off their horns and disable their operating systems, no actual malicious car hacking incidents have been reported. However, the infiltration of the Jeep Cherokee driven by WIRED Magazine writer, Andy Greenberg, on a Missouri highway by white hat hackers Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller is just one of many that have shown how vulnerable these systems are to cyber attack. White hat hackers are individuals who infiltrate computer systems in order to highlight security problems for companies to fix. They’re the good guys of the hacker world, those who find the weaknesses–sometimes even hired by businesses to do so–and share them with the manufacturers to help them strengthen their programs.

Black hat hackers, however, are the ones who break into the wireless network systems for malicious purposes. These are the bad guys of the hacker community. And as automobiles become more connected–self-driving cars–the need for lawmakers to take a legal stand to protect you and your 21st-century cutting-edge automobile from what is felt to be the inevitable actions of these perpetrators becomes more vital.

Car Hacking 101

Per the Tech Target website’s IoT Agenda, car hacking is “the manipulation of the code in a car’s electronic control unit (ECU) to exploit a vulnerability and gain control of other ECU units in the vehicle.” The ECU is your vehicle’s brain. It controls your entire engine. So, if someone’s able to hack into it then he or she is capable of making your automobile do pretty much anything he or she wants. And when you’re talking about a 6,000 pound hunk of moving metal, that’s rather scary.

Strict hacking laws proposed

As cars get smarter and more communicative, the ability to infiltrate them via a wireless network gets easier. Your vehicle talks to your phone via bluetooth, your MP3 player through the AUX cord, interfaces with other cars (V2V) and even sends signals to law enforcement through its license plate (automatic license plate readers or ALPR). With so much wide open access, it raises the issue of not just how would someone plug into your vehicle’s system, but when. 

Two pieces of legislation, in particular, are gaining notice. Michigan State Senator Ken Horn and Michigan State Senate Floor Majority Leader Mike Kowall have teamed up to propose that car hacking in their state be punishable by “life or any term of years” in jail. Meanwhile, the Security and Privacy in Your Car Act of 2015 or SPY Car Act is a federal plan sponsored by U.S. Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), both members of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. The bill requires the National Highway Safety and Transportation Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to collaborate on creating new standards for automakers to meet in regards to cyber security in their vehicles.

The NHTSA has actually been researching safeguards to combat car hacking for several years and continues to expand its knowledge in order to better address these concerns. Its Office of Vehicle Safety Research specifically focuses on ways to “strategize, plan, and implement research programs to continually further the Agency’s goals in reduction of crashes, fatalities, and injuries.” Part of that is addressing car hacking.

A meeting of the minds in legislation and the auto industry

Connected cars and autonomous vehicles are considered the safest solutions to the rising automobile fatality rate – 35,200 deaths were reported in 2015 with 94 percent due to human error, hence the recent announcement about legislation to encourage and regulate the technology. Because of the desire to put even more wirelessly-connected autos on the roads it’s vital to make sure they can be operated safely. In January, U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Anthony Foxx announced the unprecedented collaboration between DOT, NHTSA and 18 automakers to address preparations for combating cyber threats to vehicles. A document called the Proactive Safety Principles 2016 outlines four key areas of security focus  and lists the partners who have signed on. These categories are Enhance and Facilitate Proactive Safety, Enhance Analysis and Examination of Early Warning Reporting Data, Maximize Safety Recall Participation Rates, and Enhance Automotive Cybersecurity.

In his statement, Secretary Foxx pointed out, “We all know that the performance today’s vehicles achieve is due in large part to an increasing amount of computer hardware and software under the hood and behind the dashboard. And the era of automated vehicle technologies will add to that. So we have pledged to work collaboratively to mitigate cyber threats that could pose unreasonable safety risks.”

A wealth of ports of entry

the various internal ports of entry for car hacking

a car’s electrical system

The hardware and software Secretary Foxx mentions have many ports of entry to the inner workings of your vehicle that leave it that much more exposed. Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller proved the fragility of cyber security not just once but twice in the same Jeep Cherokee they took over from Andy Greenberg. The first time was done over the internet and Fiat-Chrysler prompted responded by fixing the issue. However, a second attempt prior to the August Black Hat conference showed that the two researchers could affect a more dangerous hack when plugged into the ECU under the dashboard to send messages to the car’s internal systems known as the controller area network  or CANbus. It pointed out not only how someone plugged into the electronic control unit could attack the vehicle’s brain, but that doing so over a wireless network is still an issue.

Consider this scenario: you take your car to the shop. The mechanic plugs into your automobile’s ECU to gain instant access to the CANbus, adjusting and fixing whatever’s needed. Great.

But, while the auto repair person is communicating with the inner workings, it leaves your car’s digital door open for anyone else with enough know-how to hack into your on-board diagnostics (OBD) portal via remote. This is also the port into which you plug the dongle your auto insurance company gave you to track vehicle miles traveled (VMT). So imagine that all of the information floating around in there is vulnerable to anyone with a little car-hacking savvy to break in and control your car without your say so.

The OBD isn’t the only susceptible spot. There is the in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) capability that connects with everything from navigation systems to gaming and movies that can play on the screens in your backseat for the kids. Your bluetooth can be enabled so you can speak hands free – a law in some states – to any of your contacts in your cellular network. And every time you engage in wireless activities while you’re driving – upgrade a phone app, listen to driving instructions, access music – your vehicle’s system is open to anyone who wants to come in.

Five quick DIY anti-car hacking tips

Today’s connected cars are super efficient, wonderfully eco-friendly and incredibly convenient.  They are also machines that have created a whole information highway of their own by allowing access to their operating systems through different portals and devices in a unique way. Right now, the possibilities of being a victim of car hacking are rare. However, the concern that it’s only a matter of time before black hats decide to give it a go are real. While lawmakers work on auto legislation and car manufacturers innovate to keep you and your vehicle secure, you too can take some simple steps to help yourself.

In the spirit of “forewarned is forearmed,” here are five steps you can take to protect your car and yourself:

1. Know Your Mechanic

Make sure you’re familiar with the person who works on your car. That OBD he’ll plug into gives him all-access to everything inside your engine’s brain. Protect it.

2. Watch what you plug into your dashboard

Be careful with the USBs and flash drives you plug into the ports in your dash. Know the source of the information you downloaded to transfer to your vehicle’s brain. Malware has been known to be uploaded into the car’s operating system through these sticks, thereby compromising it.

3. Familiarize yourself with your OBD port and check it

Find the port and check it from time to time to ensure it doesn’t look tampered with and no strange dongles are connected. If you notice anything amiss, contact your carmaker.

4. Use your car key to lock and unlock your car

Scanning your wireless key fob system is the easiest thing to hack on your automobile. Every time you use it, it sends out a signal that can be plucked to allow someone to get inside your vehicle and steal it, the contents or meddle with your controls.

5. Keep up with system updates

Just as with your phone and computer, your car’s digital brain requires periodic updates. Get them installed immediately. Some of these need to be done by the dealer and others can be done by yourself. However, it’s best to work with your automaker to ensure these are being handled appropriately. If nothing else, it will walk you through installations and help you should you discover something amiss with your automobile.

Familiarize yourself with your car

Ultimately, keeping in tune with your vehicle will help you stay on top of any issues that could arise. This is a new age of automotive innovation that opens up amazing opportunities, but with those come a slew of possible dangers. Legislative inroads are being made in an effort to protect connected car owners, but these are still in the proposal stage. Taking an active role in the security of your automobile now will prepare you for the autonomous road ahead.

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Why the Heads-Up Display is the Best Interface for the Connected Car

Today’s drivers are connected to a constant stream of digital information. In principle, this is a good thing, allowing people to access information like turn-by-turn navigation, speed limit and real-time traffic updates quickly and efficiently. However, these same helpful tools can be a significant source of distraction to a driver—especially those without a heads-up display.

Accessing digital information while driving is now the norm. In fact, reports that, at any moment during the hours of daylight, as many as 660,000 drivers across America are actively using cell phones or other electronics. This alarming statistic reveals a major source of roadway peril.

Technology is here to stay, and it is unlikely that laws will completely forbid the use of it.  One way to mitigate the danger represented, however, is to change the way in which people interact with technology while on the road.

A logical solution is the heads-up display.

A heads-up display (HUD) system consists of a translucent display unit that is overlaid on the windshield. The benefit of this setup is that drivers keep their “heads up” and their eyes right where they need to be: on the road.

Display technology

The concept isn’t as new as you might imagine. In fact, similar display technology has been available in some vehicles for more than 30 years, yet without much fanfare. This leads to a logical question: Given its relative lack of prior market success, why re-open the discussion on these displays now?

The answer is relatively simple: modern drivers have a lot more information available. That is, while classic displays provided some useful information, such as the speedometer and fuel gauge, none of this information required repeated checking throughout the driving experience.

Present-day connected cars offer more than just instrument panel information; they allow drivers to access everything from driving directions to reviews of the restaurants they pass.

HUD technology is available in an assortment of forms, including light-emitting diodes (LEDs), digital micromirror devices (DMDs) and liquid crystal display (LCDs). Regardless of the mechanism, however, the primary features and benefits remain similar. Moreover, these systems are often operated with voice commands, allowing drivers to keep their hands on the wheel while traveling.

Augmented reality

Some of the most impressive incarnations of HUD technology go so far as to offer drivers the opportunity to see a whole new world. These displays, known as augmented reality heads-up displays (AR-HUD), overlay useful information on the real world that lies on the other side of the windshield.

Just like those first-down lines that are superimposed on the football field for the benefit of TV viewers, augmented reality displays critical, often safety-related, information right into the driver fields of view. For example, such a display may depict boxes and lines indicating safety zones around other vehicles in the field of vision, making it easier to assess safe distances and reducing the likelihood of an accident.

Augmented reality displays also make following directions easier. Since clear arrows and other digital markers are presented as overlapping actual roadways and objects, there is no interpretation necessary of either simulated exhibits or voice commands common in existing GPS units and apps. As technology continues to advance, real-world anomalies such as potholes or unexpected road debris may also be marked in advance—features of which current tech is incapable.

Increased technological application

While HUDs are an available feature on many higher-priced cars, drivers don’t necessarily have to own one of these expensive vehicles in order to utilize the technology. Some companies currently offer add-on systems for use with any make of automobile.

It should be noted that these add-on systems don’t communicate as seamlessly with a vehicle as systems that come standard, allowing all of the information available to the connected car to be displayed. With add-ons, a certain level of integration is lost, since all information is relayed from a smartphone rather than from the vehicle itself.

While the number of potential driver distractions is unlikely to decrease over time, with the renewed focus on introducing and improving HUDs, manufacturers and others within the tech industry are playing an important part in making driving safer for both smartphone users and drivers of connected cars.


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The Safety Implications of a Connected Car

In the age of the connected car, it’s hard to believe that just two centuries ago, Francois Isaac de Rivaz invented the first internal combustion engine that would later fit into an automobile.

From Charles Kettering to Ralph Teetor, innovators across the decades have improved upon the original model—adding seat belts, power steering, cruise control, power locks and keyless ignition, for example. And more modern innovations are proving to be especially impactful, offering a host of positive safety implications.

Today’s cars are more powerful, efficient, automated and connected. The contemporary car is enhanced with automated vehicle technology features that have the computing power of 20 PCs, according to McKinsey & Company. And all this power makes modern autos both more appealing and safer for consumers.

Connected car features

With all of the UI and UX advancements to motor vehicles, one might think that what draws most consumers to the connected car is added convenience. In a recent survey conducted by Spireon, however, drivers cited the following among the most desired connected car features:

  • On-board diagnostics
  • Fuel pattern monitoring
  • In-car voice commands
  • In-car internet

Interestingly, it wasn’t convenience that topped the list. The most significant (and desirable) advancements in vehicle connectivity were added safety and security.

Collision risk reduction

Since the advent of automobiles, crashes have remained the primary danger associated with car travel—with the majority due to human error. Thanks to advancements in connectivity, this could all change. The impact of the connected car in reducing collision risks, particularly self-driving and other autonomous vehicles, is substantial. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) projects that around 80 percent of all crash scenarios could be prevented with the use of these technologies.

With approximately 1.3 million auto deaths reported annually, according to the Association for Safe International Road Travel, this accident-prevention technology could mean literally saving over a million lives.

The most beneficial accident-prevention technologies are crash and collision warning systems. These alert drivers when they are approaching another vehicle or a stationary object too quickly. In many instances, they even apply the brakes for the motorist.

Also advantageous are lane departure warnings. Systems of this type let drivers know if they’re veering off course. This not only redirects a distracted driver, but can also awaken the motorist in case he or she starts to doze off.

It’s not just the people in the car who benefit from these features. Those outside are also safer due to pedestrian avoidance features. In most cars, automated pedestrian avoidance means the vehicle can either apply the brake or redirect itself away from any person in its path.

Safety monitoring

Honest drivers would probably acknowledge that they drive safer when they know they’re being watched. Just like a 16-year-old who triple checks his blind spot and uses his blinker when changing lanes because mom is in the car, a motorist’s degree of focus, speed and safety compliance are influenced by the presence of an audience.

With contemporary vehicle advancements, drivers can have this “audience” even when driving solo. This is thanks to vehicle telematics, which has as many potential applications as it does benefits. Telematic devices are able to track many facets of driving behavior, including speed, travel patterns and hard-braking frequency. Growing in popularity with insurance companies, telematic devices allow carriers, for example, to monitor and reward safe-driving habits and better detect accident fraud amongst their insured drivers.

Security needs

With these innovations comes the need for added protection. Because connected cars use the internet, they are also vulnerable to the same cybersecurity issues as a home computer or smartphone. Hackers could potentially control everything from the direction of travel to speed, so the dangers associated with being infiltrated are great. Consumer Reports noted this growing concern, warning buyers that dedicated hackers can—and perhaps even will—hack into connected vehicles.

Fortunately, NHTSA is actively working to make cars harder to hack. So far, their efforts are focused on building up firewalls and decreasing the degree to which automakers use standardized software.

Experts anticipate this will certainly decrease the ease with which would-be cyber-intruders can access a vehicle. But it’s important to remember that hacking will likely continue to be a concern.

With plentiful features and enticing bells and whistles, connected cars are certain to grow in popularity. Thanks to the security features that are built into these smart vehicles, safer times on the road are ahead.

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Electronic Toll Collection (ETC): A Look at the Past, Present and Future

Winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Economics, William S. Vickery introduced the U.S. to the concept of electronic toll collection (ETC) in the early 1960s. When birthing his brainchild, Vickery had to fight hard to convince Americans that this seemingly complicated method of toll payment would improve the existing system. Today, after seeing the fruits of his labor in play on roadways across the country, few would argue against Vickery’s vision.

In fact, the modern electronic toll payment system looks surprisingly similar to the one that Vickery proposed more than 50 years ago. Thanks to ETC, commuters are now able to enjoy zipping through toll plazas.

The past, present and future of tolls

One of the best-known ETC companies is E­ZPass, which runs the tollways in 16 American states in the Northeast, Midwest and Mid­Atlantic regions, as well as at the Canadian end of the Peace Bridge entering Ontario.

Because these toll plazas are so widespread, some people use the term “E­Z pass” as a synonym for every ETC in the same way that Kleenex has become synonymous with all facial tissue. A primary advantage of the company’s reach is that drivers with E­ZPass accounts can easily pay tolls in any of the states that use the transponder technology.

Still, other providers exist: ExpressToll in Colorado, SunPass in Florida and Good to Go! in Washington State, to name a few.

This variety presents a problem for commercial truckers, government employees and road-trippers who frequently traverse several states and use toll roads owned by different companies with incompatible equipment. These drivers will need to make a choice: stop and pay toll charges with cash or a credit card, collect and use a variety of ETC passes, or avoid tollways altogether.

For years, it seemed the implementation of a nationwide ETC system would be an impossibility. In fact, most toll roads are privately owned—although some companies manage express lanes on federal interstate highways, while some state governments own their individual ETC networks. That is now showing signs of shifting.

In 2012, President Obama passed the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP21). Several changes were made to transportation in that bill, one of which was a first strike in harmonizing ETC systems. MAP21 requires every Federally aided toll facility to “implement technologies or business practices that provide for the interoperability of electronic toll collection by October 1, 2016,” something never thought possible. While this is something that doesn’t make a completely universal system, it is a first step and one that has those who are affected by the change now scrambling to comply.

Regardless of whether they are publicly or privately owned, universal or unique, ETC companies must work in close partnership with state governments to ensure that drivers adhere to the rules of the tollways. Developments in high­ speed camera and vehicle­ detection technology allow systems to run smoothly, but the intervention of state law enforcement is still necessary where violations occur. Technological advancements will also increase the role of government in monitoring and enforcing toll compliance, as well as developing intelligent transportation systems.

Technology behind ETC

One of the technologies behind electronic toll collection systems is radio frequency identification

(RFID). RFID tags are used for vehicle identification of cars equipped with stickers or transponder devices containing the technology. An antenna in the toll lane communicates with these tags to identify vehicles for the purpose of toll collection.

However, RFID is just one form of automatic vehicle identification (AVI) technology utilized by ETC companies and government agencies. In fact, vehicles that drive through ETC tollbooths or full­-speed ETC lanes are monitored by a variety of other means including cameras, license plate recognition software and auto-­accessed DMV records.

For instance, high-­speed closed ­circuit television cameras capture license plate images and, sometimes, even photographs of the driver. This enables ETC companies to coordinate with state governments and use video analytics to fine violators or to charge “license plate tolls” to all motorists, even those without transponders.

This type of tracking depends on communication between toll plaza computers, its associated central office workstations and government databases. Since DMV records use license plate information to identify vehicles based on registration, an automobile owner can be fined for toll            violations even if another driver evaded payment using his or her car. And government agencies could be charged if their employees use ETC lanes improperly.

Although the old ETC technology works well, companies are already investing in the development and testing of new technologies. For instance, Xerox, which owns 50 percent of the U.S. market share, uses infrared cameras and advanced computer recognition to spot solo drivers who try to slip through express lanes intended specifically for high­-occupancy vehicles.

Aside from camera identification, some RFID tags are both readable and writable, meaning antennas can record the date and time a particular vehicle drives past. This allows toll plazas to collect and record information about when and where cars containing RFID tags enter and exit the roadways. And the new initiatives would pave the way for even more comprehensive travel monitoring.

Many major cities track license plates using closed­-circuit television cameras. While this method of surveillance has been a source of alarm for some who fear government overreach, it      appears that the benefit of the application outweighs the concerns. For instance, this technology allows for the monitoring of suspicious vehicles, making it easier for law enforcement agencies to covertly track potential criminals.

These advancements require a judicial response. Not only must government agencies work to determine how to apply these techniques, they must also monitor their use in order to ensure they aren’t mishandled. Not surprisingly, ETC technology has been at the forefront of this discussion.

The impact of electronic tolls on the future of driving

There are several reasons why utilizing ETC systems is beneficial for both consumers and government agencies. In short, ETC technology:

  • Prevents traffic jams
  • Reduces line length at toll booths
  • Improves fuel consumption
  • Reduces environmental impact
  • Enhances security

To elaborate, the vehicle identification capabilities of both RFID technology and high-­speed cameras are a boon for security. Thanks to their use, police departments and national security agencies can track down potential criminal fugitives or cars involved in Amber and Silver alerts more easily.

What’s more, requiring drivers to stop at toll plazas is a major source of traffic congestion. In fact, 30 percent of overcrowding on tollways occurs near the payment gates themselves, reports ITS Technology Enhancement Association. With ETC systems in place, many drivers don’t need to stop at all, alleviating a major source of traffic jams.

The use of ETC methods also has a financial benefit. In most cases, drivers can actually save money with an E­ZPass or similar devices. This stems from the reduction of manpower once required to run toll booths, a savings that is passed on in part to drivers who utilize these unmanned lanes.

Who would have believed that an idea born 50 years ago could so substantially impact the lives of travelers across the country? As technology advances and additional improvements to ETC revolutionize this facet of the industry, the benefits are expected to continue growing in both number and magnitude.

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Imagining Our Automotive Future at the Connected Car Expo

Mayor Eric Garcetti pledged to make Los Angeles a center for connected car technology and innovation.

If you can’t live without your smartphone, you definitely won’t be able to live without a “smartphone on wheels.” That’s how visionaries at the Connected Car Expo (CCE) in Los Angeles in November described the automated, connected cars they predict will be hitting American roads in the coming years. Mayor Eric Garcetti opened the expo by pledging to make Los Angeles a hub for connected cars and new vehicle technology, indicating that the city’s doors are open to entrepreneurs. According to the entrepreneurs who presented, including representatives of Lyft, Volkswagen, Google, the Los Angeles Taxi Commission and startups like HopSkipDrive, the future of personal automobiles and transportation lies in autonomous vehicles, ensuring safety, neutralizing cybersecurity concerns and ride sharing.

Autonomous Vehicles

The future will be about rethinking how we view driving and vehicles, and the amount of time we spend on activities related to them. Autonomous cars – completely driverless vehicles – have the potential to reshape how we get around, expo speakers said. Safety and determining liability in the case of an accident are the biggest concerns, however, and must be addressed before people will trust them.

Innovative safety features are already being developed. Autonomous cars could have 360 degree radar that scans adjacent lanes. Such a system would provide a cocoon of detection, able to distinguish humans, dogs, deer and other creatures, explained Gary O’Brien, Global Director of Advanced Engineering at Delphi, which is developing the technology. Sensors would tell you your distance from objects. Using this technology, Delphi completed a San Francisco to New York autonomous road trip. Brian Droessler, Vice President of Software and Connected Solutions, Continental, suggested vehicles could be equipped with visual (such as an LED light strip warning) and acoustic warnings. This would enable a passenger to correct an autonomous vehicle in an emergency. Droessler, however, explained that audio alerts are much more effective than visual warnings, which tend to be more distracting. But regardless of how safe autonomous vehicles might be, the experts suggested that manufacturers may have to accept liability after an accident.

Ride Sharing

The future isn’t just about automotive technological advances, it’s also about how we use our vehicles, or even if we have personal vehicles at all. John Zimmer, Lyft Cofounder and President, envisions a future in which we will be building cars and infrastructure to fit our lives. Young people are now less inclined to own a car or to drive. Mobile technologies like smart phones are the new symbols of freedom, so the challenge lies in building a harmonious relationship between cars and technology. Lyft is realizing this future by creating a ride-sharing culture with fewer drivers, fewer cars on the road and less traffic. One day, Zimmer said, we may be able to replace car parks with grass parks.

Ride sharing will reshape how we get around, and even if we decide to own a car, according to Lyft Cofounder and President John Zimmer.

Some startups are helping to realize this future. HopSkipDrive is a ride-sharing service designed specifically for kids and their busy parents. In the future, families will have fewer cars and teenagers will be less eager to drive or get their licenses, according to cofounder Joanna McFarland. HopSkipDrive matches kids with highly-vetted drivers with clean driving and criminal records. McFarland said her company personally screens and fingerprints each driver, selecting only those with at least five years’ childcare experience.

Taxis of the future will also contribute to a greater ride-sharing culture. Eric Spiegelman, President of the Los Angeles Taxi Commission, said taxis of the future will be driverless “taxibots.” Using and maintaining them will be cheaper per mile (25 cents) than for a traditional car. Furthermore, they won’t discriminate. They will go to inner-city districts and pick up any passenger, quickly responding to him or her regardless of location.

Frankie James, Managing Director of the Advanced Tech Office in Silicon Valley, General Motors, explained that ride sharing can be expanded by including shared vehicles as part of one’s rent. Renters, for example, can share several cars and be allotted a certain number of hours to use them each month.


Cars of the future will be like smart phones on wheels, which means they will be evolving and changing constantly. Over the Air (OTA) programming will create a new industry for remotely updating your car’s software, said Oren Betzaleli, Executive Vice President of Redbend Product Strategy, HARMAN. New applications and gadgets inside the car will keep drivers connected and entertained, while also keeping the roads safe. Vehicle applications are being developed for an intuitive, non-distracting experience, including effortless music selection on your audio system, according to Henry Newton-Dunn, Design Manager, Google, and Evan Malahy, Design Lead, Android Auto. Meanwhile, startup Driversiti is focused on creating applications that will turn a smart phone from a distraction into a safety alert system.


New technologies create new security risks, which require new strategies to neutralize them. Like a computer, connected and autonomous cars may be vulnerable to hacking, which has led industry leaders to debate if consumer demand alone can compel the industry to ensure sufficient cybersecurity, or if government needs to regulate. The experts at CCE opined that the market will play a role in determining when security measures are needed to address new risks. Andre Weimerskirch, Associate Research Scientist, UMTRI, said government agencies must establish a baseline for security, but competition among OEMs should drive security measures in the industry.

We’re set on a course that will upend automotive transportation in the coming decades. But just like most predictions of the near future made in movies (think of (1989) and its vision of October 21, 2015), the visionaries are often off. Yet at this critical time, they are planting the seeds for completely changing automotive transportation.

How do you envision cars of the future?


Ending Gridlock Paves the Road for Connected Vehicles

We’re on the brink of a connected-vehicle revolution.

With the proper investments today, we could be right around the corner from a tomorrow in which connected vehicles (CVs) and a network of smart roads and highways bring us a safer, smarter, greener and more economically-productive surface transportation system.

CVs are wirelessly connected to the Internet and to other smart devices — such as your phone or tablet — inside and near the vehicle. Together the vehicle works with those devices and networks to connect the driver and passengers to services and devices outside the car such as other cars, homes, offices or infrastructure.

For CVs to reach their potential we need to start upgrading our traditional public roads and highways to intelligent transportation systems (ITS). Some elements of ITS are already being implemented on public highways across the county:

“Traditionally manned toll booths are being replaced with sensors that read license plates. Radio receivers are being stationed along freeways to measure traffic volume. Apps are currently being marketed that communicate with parking meters to monitor vacancies. The department of transportation is already implementing predictive weather sensors that can communicate advisement to drivers. Chances are, you’re already driving past these innocuous devices, and benefiting from them.”

And as those ITS networks improve and advance, CVs will advance along with them.

Right now conventional automobiles account for 86 percent of all transportation in this country, with passengers’ logging more than 4 trillion miles in 2013, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The vast majority of those vehicles are rolling on infrastructure that’s outdated, inefficient and, in some cases, crumbling.

Let’s look at some of the facts:

  • Deficiencies in America’s surface transportation systems cost households and businesses an estimated $130 billion in 2010 in travel time delays, safety costs and environmental costs
  • According to the American Society of Civil Engineers’ 2013 “Report Card for America’s Infrastructure,” 42 percent of the nation’s major urban highways remain congested, “costing the economy an estimated $101 billion in wasted time and fuel annually”
  • According to a report by Economic Development Research Group, deteriorating infrastructure will cost the U.S. economy $210 billion by 2020 – an increase of 82 percent – if present trends continue. By 2040 the cost will have increased by 351 percent, to $520 billion.

You don’t need a degree in economics to know we can’t afford let our infrastructure fall apart.

Partisan gridlock in Washington, D.C. must end if we are going to bring our infrastructure into the 21st century.

Democrats and Republicans agree Congress must direct more federal funds to infrastructure, but where lawmakers can’t agree is on how to get it done.

The most obvious source of new transportation funding is a raise in the federal gas tax, which has remained 18.4 cents-per-gallon since 1993, despite major increases in vehicle fuel efficiency. A recent Washington Post editorial called a federal gas tax hike a “ready and reasonable way to pay for the nation’s infrastructure.” However, few in Congress – Republican or Democrat – want to be accused of voting in favor of a tax hike before the next election cycle. As a result, any serious talk of raising the gas tax continues to stall.

Another option for funding the necessary repairs and upgrades to the nation’s infrastructure includes taxing the repatriated earnings U.S. companies are currently hoarding in overseas bank accounts. According to CNBC, American-based companies are stashing $2.5 trillion in profits in offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes back home. If the top seven U.S. companies keeping profits in low-tax overseas countries brought their profits home, “their combined tax liability would come to more than $90 billion,” according to Bloomberg.

In the meantime, Congress continues to apply Band-Aids to the nation’s transportation system by passing short-term funding bills aimed at keeping current infrastructure projects moving forward. One lawmaker recently likened the passage of an emergency infrastructure-funding bill to “slapping silly putty on a cracked bridge.”

ITS and CVs could make our 4 million miles of public roads and highways safer, less congested, more environmentally friendly, and more economically productive with networked CVs’ cutting travel times, improving traffic flow and reducing accidents.

We all know our nation’s infrastructure is the backbone and lifeblood of our economy, but we also know it is in desperate need of adequate federal funding. If CVs and smart highways are going to move from the realm of science fiction and into reality, then we need to start laying foundations.