The electronics on board brings freedom and safety … But in return, some flaws are the delight of hackers and leave your dear car at the mercy of crackers. Here is a quick overview of the risks involved …
Those who knew the 80s certainly did not forget the TV series K2000, where a Pontiac bardée of electronics and endowed with artificial intelligence used his multiple gadgets to drive alone, fly in the air and always ended up triumphing. Of course, at the time, the hero wore a Perfecto and cowboys, the screens were CRT and the cockpit of “KITT” resembled that of a Boeing. Thirty years later, the reality is catching up with the fiction: if your car abstains (yet) to humor while driving, some models can now park without your intervention, find the address of a restaurant, you reserve a table and take you there, to see the night thanks to a thermal camera or to break with the approach of an immediate danger.
From the essential to the superfluous
It all started in the 50s with the beginnings of electronic fuel injection: to better balance the air/fuel mixture necessary for the proper operation of the engine, Bendix engineers think of electronics to replace the good old carburetor. The trials are promising and it was in 1967 that the first electronic injection appeared on a mass-market model, the Volkswagen 1600 TL / E. Manufacturers and OEMs quickly decided to take advantage of new opportunities offered by computing and miniaturization. Microcomputers, as advertised at the time, then perform other tasks: anti-lock braking system (ABS), climate control, computer trip, cruise control … Useful applications or sometimes more futile as the digital dashboards or the synthesis of speech (ah! the Renault 25 which asked you to buckle up your belt …). But the years 2000 and 2010 see a spectacular intrusion of high-tech on board: first GPS dedicated to guidance, then real connected systems, adaptive speed controllers, embedded multimedia systems, Internet connection, Wi-Fi …
Towards the autonomous car
Today, most security systems have become commonplace: the ESP (Electronic Stability Program) is no longer limited to monitoring road holding but is accompanied by a myriad of devices with acronyms sometimes absent to manage the motor skills under the snow or the emergency braking aid. Lighthouses become smart, follow the road profile, change their intensity according to traffic, and some car models can even prepare for an imminent collision when they have no authority over braking. Sensors, radars and other cameras have become the eyes and ears of our cars: they scan the safety distances, check the trajectory according to the marking on the ground, know how to read the road signs or are able to identify pedestrians at night. thanks to the detection of heat sources. Up to the time slots that are alone! And here is an A8 A8 able to enter alone in an underground car park, find a place and wait for you at the exit. As Grégory Delépine, head of press: “The main difficulties are not technical but legal: these technologies could be commercialized, but we clear many new areas and lawyers must be persuasive, especially on aspects of control of the vehicle and on individual freedoms “.