Smart Cities and Driverless Cars: The Road to Cybersecurity in 2018 and Beyond

Smart Cities and Driverless Cars: The Road to Cybersecurity in 2018 and Beyond

In 1956, General Motors released a concept car called Firebird II. Its bold, futuristic, and practical style perfectly reflected its many progressive features. The exterior bodywork was 100% titanium, it had a 200hp output, it was the first car that used disc brakes on four wheels, and most importantly it was equipped with a sophisticated guidance system designed to interface with the highway of the future, where electrical wires in roads sent signals that would direct traffic to avoid accidents. General Motors’ early electronic brain is proof that “smart city” technology has been in development for quite some time.

 Governments and private corporations are advancing a wave of smart technology that is currently being implemented in city systems and infrastructures across the globe. These efforts are mainly aimed at increasing efficiency and promoting information sharing between government and private agencies. The rise of the smart city is being hailed as the next great tech renaissance. Although there is mixed criticism about the sustainability, environmental impact, and economic implications of implementing smart technologies, the move to make cities and industries smarter is already yielding positive results around the world.

For instance, the engineers at Nvidia are now in the process of using and developing a virtual reality testing system for its self-driving AI. It’s part of a move to make driverless car testing safer. The VR system is called Drive Constellation. It creates hyper realistic environments in which Nvidia’s Drive Pegasus AI can practice driving in virtual reality before it’s used to pilot actual autonomous vehicles. Engineers are hopeful that this will significantly decrease the likelihood that autonomous vehicles will be involved in fatal crashes in the future.

The Government of Singapore has commissioned Swedish company Scania to test autonomous trucks to raise

efficiency in port facilities. Scania is in the process of developing an autonomous platooning system in which a lead vehicle controls the acceleration, braking, and steering of the other three trucks behind it. This type of platooning is also being tested in the UK.

Here in Nigeria the National Automotive Design and Development Council or NADDC has already expressed interest in acquiring autonomous vehicle technologies that the country can use. In an interview with National Accord Newspaper, director general of the NADDC Jelani Aliyu explained that, “If we are talking about advanced vehicles that use a lot of embedded ICT systems, then, it means we have to leverage on ICT capabilities in Nigeria and that is where we would work very closely with NITDA (Nigeria Information Technology Development Agency) on identifying the types of talents that will be applicable to the automotive sector,” He added that the NADCC has already met with car makers Nissan, BMW, Toyota, and Volkswagen to discuss the potential use of autonomous vehicles in the country.

Autonomous technology is growing rapidly and in many cases industries are already implementing semi-autonomous devices to aid drivers. The USA has gone as far as to create an Electronic Logging Device (ELD) Mandate that requires all commercial trucks to install a tracking and logging device. Verizon Connect details how the devices track a driver’s time on the road in order to prevent them exceeding their legal hours. Fatigued driving in the trucking industry is a big cause of fatal accidents, and the devices warn both the driver and fleet operator if a violation is about to be committed. The devices also allow drivers and fleet companies to streamline their operations. It does this through an Internet of Things (IoT) system that provides drivers with the most efficient delivery routes, makes a log of braking activity in order to improve fuel-efficiency, and even warn drivers about changing regulations. It is clear that IoT technology will play a huge role in the future of the automobile industry.

Following these developments there are concerns regarding cybersecurity. The smart city design entails increasing dependence on digital technologies. Yet with this increased reliance on technology, Nexxy Tech have often asked could driverless vehicles of the future be at risk from hackers? How safe is a fully autonomous system from cyber threats?

The problem is that this reliance on autonomous or semi-autonomous driving systems opens entire industries up to various types of cyber attacks. While we used to worry about identity theft or money being hacked from bank accounts, in the future we might need to worry about a self-driving car being controlled by a unauthorised third party. This is clearly a concern with the UK government issuing guidelines to automakers on cyber security.

With great risk comes great reward. The future is digital through smart cities and autonomous vehicles. We just hope that the developers of these autonomous/semi-autonomous technologies know what they’re doing when it comes to protecting their own tech.


About The Author: Catherine Anders
Twitter Handler:  @AllieCooper_18

Written by: Catherine Anders for

Images: By Karrmann – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

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