Technology of any kind is always a double edged sword. It can present us with great convenience, but it may also come with its own set of caveats. As consumers, part of our responsibility is to do our due diligence before we buy any kind of tech solution, learning not only how it can benefit us but how we can use it safely and responsibly. Nowhere is this truth more self-evident than in the automotive industry. More than ever, vehicle manufacturers vie for dominance in a market where digitally-informed consumers know that they can afford to be fickle. Thus, brands each brand has its own inventive solutions for making their vehicles more comfortable, safer and more convenient for their drivers.
But any assistive technology, from fully autonomous vehicles to something as benign as a stop-start engine has the propensity to go awry. No technology is without some degree of risk. And while such vulnerabilities needn’t deter consumers from choosing a particular vehicle, they owe it to themselves to learn about the risks associated with certain technologies.
Tomorrow’s technology is here today. And while the concept may still be in its infancy, the prospect of self-driving cars is tangibly close. The ability to enlist the aid of a computerised driver or co-driver has huge implications. It could mean that human taxi drivers could become a quaint anachronism within a generation and that tired drivers will be able to rely on a sophisticated AI to take the wheel when they need to rest.
But while this is potentially very exciting, as this article by Scrap Car Network points out, there’s a lot that can go awry. The sensors used by autonomous vehicles can be compromised by severe weather and if on-board systems fail on the road it can have huge safety implications. Not to mention the loss of jobs and livelihood for those in the passenger transport industry.
Satellite navigation is an invaluable tool that has prevented a generation of drivers from ever having to take fleeting glances at their maps at the wheel while wondering how they ever managed to get this lost. But as most seasoned drivers will know… Sat Navs have been known to be wrong. And when they go awry, they don’t go in for half-measures. They can either give up the ghost entirely or encourage drivers to steer into rivers.
These risks are compounded when drivers put their absolute faith in them rather than trusting their own instincts.
Automatic Emergency Braking
Automatic Emergency Braking is a potentially invaluable and life-saving technology. It can spot an approaching hazard and react more quickly than the driver, applying the brakes in some cases before the driver even perceives the hazard.
However, the sensors that power this technology can be prone to failure. They can be misaligned by impact or set off by loose leaves or debris in the housing. This could cause the car’s brakes to slam on even on an open stretch of road. And if there’s a vehicle close behind, this can be seriously dangerous.
Keyless entry can offer great convenience, especially on those frantically busy Monday mornings. No need to fumble around in your pockets for keys. No more awkward situations when you have your hands full. So long as you have your fob in your pocket, you’ll be granted easy access to your vehicles. And with the advent of biometric measures like fingerprint scanning, keyless entry has the potential to be even more secure.
However, while impressive, this technology is also very hackable. Cars with keyless entry can be hacked into in seconds, and thieves are only an internet search away from learning the methodology to do it. Moreover, keeping your entry fob in the same pocket as your mobile can interfere with the frequency.
The Internet of Things
More and more of the conveniences within our vehicles are powered by IoT or the Internet of Things. This, again, raises potential hacking vulnerabilities. Wherever there is connectivity, there is the potential for corruption, especially with the majority of IoT devices (not just the ones in our cars) boasting little or no cyber security infrastructure.
While in-car technology can be a cool selling point, the manufacturer won’t tell you about the vulnerabilities that come with the benefits. Always learn what you can about what can go wrong with any technology and how to mitigate before making an investment.