Outsmarted – the perils that go with smart cars

Connected vehicles promise a world of advantages, from safety technology and route advice to toll payments and recovery of stolen vehicles.

But the more connected they are, the greater the risks they pose, warns a new report by Advisen, prepared for Zurich Insurance.

Cars are rapidly becoming a rolling information hub. Increasingly, an automobile is characterised by a sophisticated network of computers linked to one another and to the Internet.

Some track and report on internal systems and vehicle usage. Others help govern such functions as steering and braking. Yet others are integral to on-board navigation, communication, information and entertainment systems.

Vehicles soon will be equipped with functionality to be in constant communication with surrounding vehicles and transportation infrastructure to improve safety. These enhancements include lane assist, automatic braking, and other methods of preventing collisions. Other advancements in technology can also benefit, such as triggering first response in emergency situations.

While computer technology and the internet are contributing to a safer and more enjoyable driving experience, there are trade-offs and risks.

Electrical control units can improve vehicle performance and enhance diagnostic capabilities, but they have proved vulnerable to hackers.

Cars that enhance safety by electronically interacting with other vehicles and the driving environment generate privacy concerns. Who owns and uses the data that tracks driver behaviour and journeys?

Advanced infotainment systems provide a wide range of communication, information and entertainment capabilities, but also have many of the same security vulnerabilities as a smartphone or tablet.

Additionally, while automobile manufacturers claim that new infotainment technologies are much safer to use than the ways many drivers currently use smartphones and MP3 players, some safety advocates raise distraction concerns.

Download the Advisen Report for more risk considerations around the privacy, security and safety of smart cars.

As the go-to insurer for the transportation and logistics industry, Zurich takes a particular interest in promoting road safety and sponsoring research into the risks facing transport companies and fleet owners.

We will continue to offer risk insights as the vehicle technology landscape evolves at a fast pace, try to analyse and quantify risk and continue to develop creative solutions in response.

Zurich is a founder member of the NRSPP (National Road Safety Partnership Program). Watch the video on connected vehicles on YouTube or on their website.