International Investment in Autonomous Cars – a Race to Regulation

Investment in Autonomous Cars – a Race to Regulation

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Daniel Thunberg says Singapore has created a set of standards to make fully autonomous vehicles safe to use

Roughly 90 organisations and individuals in the United States have submitted public comments on a proposed regulation to ease the rules for self-driving vehicles. Among them are General Motors and Alphabet’s Waymo and they are encouraging federal safety regulators to update laws that would accommodate the testing and approval of fully autonomous vehicles on U.S. public roadways, even those without driver controls.

While the U.S. is still debating on the regulatory framework, Southeast Asia is turning into a hub for regulatory changes in the transport segment.

Singapore’s Sentosa Island is ahead of the game. It already has its own driverless shuttle bus which started from Monday, August 26, 2019.

Users can hail these on-demand buses through a “Ride Now Sentosa” mobile app or stationed kiosks.

In April, KPMG’s Autonomous Vehicles Readiness Index ranked Singapore among the top countries for being ready to embrace autonomous vehicles for the second consecutive year. The country holds the first place for AV policy and regulation and second for infrastructure – surpassed only by the Netherlands. It is recognised as a global leader in AV development.

It is good to note that the 2018 hype around the prospects for autonomous vehicles and clamour for this technology to become a mainstream reality is gaining grounds on a global scale.

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A host of auto brands and tech heavyweights are also investing in autonomous R&D, attracting record levels of deals and funding, with autonomous driving start-ups leading the charge, according to news reports.

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In April this year, Uber announced a S$1 billion investment from Japanese conglomerate SoftBank’s Vision Fund, carmaker Toyota, and automotive component supplier Denso. Cruise Automation, the self-driving unit of General Motors, continues with its development and partnerships at pace.

General Motors chief technology officer, Jon Lauckner, revealed last year that the OEM would launch an autonomous vehicle in 2019.

Elsewhere in the world, British driverless car pioneer Oxbotica is set to partner with a private car hire firm Addison Lee to deliver a self-driving car service to Londoners within three years.

One thing is for sure, the connected and autonomous vehicle industry is not short of investment – tech giants and OEMs the world over are fighting an autonomous vehicles’ arms race, piling their money into shared mobility and experimenting with how they can be a part of what will probably be a very lucrative market.

Southeast Asia

Meanwhile, Malaysia is gearing up for regulatory changes and law amendments in the flying car segment. These changes may set the trend for the country’s future adoption of autonomous vehicles.

The Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii) in March said the reviewed National Automotive Policy (NAP) will include the outline of the regulatory framework for ‘flying cars’.

The country is planning the rules and regulations governing the automotive industry and they will cover many facets of personal mobility, including electric vehicles and autonomous driving.

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The drive for regulation

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Over the past 18 months, it has been clear that regulators have been just as keen to push forward autonomous vehicle technology as the industry itself. There was a clamour in the US in December to push through a bill to speed up the introduction of self-driving vehicles and in the UK, the Chancellor announced in the November 2017 budget that there would be regulation changes, to have driverless cars in operation in the UK by 2021.

However, the bill was not pushed through in the US in December, partly because of safety concerns – making it clear that regulators understand that this technology cannot become a reality safely, without robust security in place. This is also the case in the UK, with January 2019 seeing the release of PAS 1885, new cybersecurity standard from the British Standards Institute for developing technology incorporated into self-driving cars. The British Standards Institute has worked with academics, leading OEMs and the National Cyber Security Centre to develop the guidance, which has been funded by the Department for Transport.

How security enables progress

In the world of connected devices, security exists to allow businesses to bring connectivity to their customers without also exposing them to the associated risks inherent in being connected. In the case of connected and autonomous vehicles, security is, therefore, a fundamental element of the overall safety of the vehicle. In addition to being a key part of vehicle safety, security can also act as a platform to enable new services and potential revenue streams. Particularly with autonomous vehicles.

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Singapore created a set of standards to make fully autonomous vehicles safe to use. It spells out expectations such as how fast such vehicles should travel, the space between them along with a set of guidelines on vehicle behaviour, safety and cybersecurity issues.

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Protecting business data and securely enforcing policies assigned to the vehicle is crucial to allow business owners to deliver customizable experiences to their customers. The business itself can also be put at risk if a loss of personal data or other security failures drives customers away. With this mind, it is therefore crucial that technological change does not outpace developments in security, for both personal autonomous vehicles and passenger vehicles which will inevitably be used as public transport.

Autonomous vehicles as digital assets are creating more opportunities for OEMs and tier 1 suppliers, from new business models to improved safety, but the prospect of an autonomous vehicle future and shared mobility has rightly pushed regulation and standards to the forefront of the agenda. With this in mind, it is imperative that OEMs balance safety while implementing a convenient, flexible and customizable driving experience. To achieve this, the industry needs security experts to pave a path towards the secure roll-out of autonomous vehicles.

Daniel Thunberg, Senior Director Business Development, Connected Transport, Irdeto.

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