June 17, 2016 — Once again, a paradigm shift is upon us. Mobile connectivity has radically changed the automobile’s place in the world of connected everything. And that paradigm will shift even further once the IoE is in full bloom.
As all of this unfolds and technology marches on, some see the connectivity of the automobile is being a better, and more powerful alternative to the smartphone. It is touted as offering everything from simple voice activated entertainment functionality, to full autonomous operation, as well as infotainment, big data analytics, and artificial intelligence. Going forward, connected cars, as well as trains, boats, and planes, will have huge implications across a wide swath of the telematics arena.
According to the research firm Infonetics, connected cars are a prime driver for the M2M space, and will also tie closely to many of the sensors that will be part of the IoE. Gartner predicts there will be, at least, 250 million connected vehicles on the road by 2020. BI Intelligence, predicts that Internet connectivity will be available on at least 75 percent of all vehicles by 2020.
There are other encouraging numbers and trends. Jennifer Kent, director of research at Parks Associates, notes that “For nearly every single feature tested, consumers prefer to access the feature through a built-in interface in the vehicle, without connection to a smartphone.” The only exceptions are browsing the Web, or accessing social networking apps.
Additionally, the revenue derived by service providers from the connected car segment, alone, will be $16.9 billion from 2013 to 2018, for a CAGR of 25 percent, according to Infonetics. That is almost 21 times the expected growth rate of mobile voice and data services over the same time period. This is of extreme interest to the OTT players who view the connected car as fertile ground for push services.
OEMs, network operators and third party vendors are sitting up and taking notice. They are beginning to realize that if 75 percent of consumers consider connectivity a prime condition for purchasing their next car, they have a platform that can produce significant revenue for them.
While that may be a good thing, it is far from a smooth sailing sea. Adding wireless and IP connectivity to a vehicle opens up a world of challenges, and issue from business, to technical, security and reliability. And some of it tied, inextricably, to interference, others to security.
Connected cars will use a plethora of wireless technologies. Everything from early 2G to upcoming 5G cellular platforms, various flavor of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, multiple renditions of LTE, NFC, GPS/GLONASS, RADAR, DSRC, and emerging wireless platforms.
Some of these technologies are external, others internal. And they cover myriad frequencies. DSCR, for example, operates at around 5.9 GHz, Wi-Fi at 2.4 and 5 GHz, common cellular at 800/900 MHz, and 1.8/1.9 GHz. Collison avoidance radar at 24 GHz, 76 – 81 GHz, and 57 – 66 GHz. Then there is Bluetooth at 2.4 GHz (same frequency as Wi-Fi, and there are known interference issues between them).
Once LTE and its variants become mainstream, they will operate at anywhere between 450 MHz and 2.1 GHz. And, last but not least, while not directly part of the connected car spectrum, licensed frequencies in the ISM bands, (public safety, utilities, transportation), and other spectrum can have an effect on what is going on in, and around the car if they get close enough.
Finally there are new frequencies being examined all the time for applications, especially for the IoE and 5G. One example is 3.5 GHz. Others are 24 GHz, 28 GHz and 38 GHz and several others up to 120 GHz. It is still unclear what, exactly, these bands will be used for, and where, but the bottom line is that they will, likely, be considered for inclusion in all existing platforms at some point or another.
Individually, most of the propagation characteristics of these frequencies are well understood. Interference mitigation is also well understood. However, the cumulative effects of multiple frequency integration mitigation pose significant integration challenges. In this ecosystem, where human lives can be on the line, it must be guaranteed that all of these wireless technologies work, individually, and together, as expected, and designed. That is a challenge because, according to Christoph Wagner, director of Rohde & Schwarz’ automotive market segment, “There are a lot of standards missing,” and others are loose for a life-safety environment.
There are various types of RF interference, and many approaches to mitigation. Typical types of interference that might be found in, and around vehicular platforms. Two of the more ominous are multipath and co-channel interference. Other types are PIM, OOBE EMI, and RFI. As well there is interference caused by physical objects (signal attenuation/bouncing).
The major issue with interference is degradation or corruption of the signal. It may not be a big deal if the in-car Bluetooth connection gets stepped on, but for things like collision avoidance, and self-driving communications, interference has to be eliminated. There certainly has to be more reliability in than today’s cellular networks, for example.
And, on the topic of security, unreliable wireless connections are an open invitation to hacking. More on that a bit further on.
Interference Mitigation Techniques
Some technologies, such as spread spectrum have inherent immunity to interference. The nature of spread spectrum makes them the top technology for both interference immunity and security. Spread spectrum is a well understood technology and there is a plethora of data available on the topic. A good prime on spread spectrum, if the reader is interested, can be found here: http://semiengineering.com/the-challenge-of-securing-wireless-connectivity.
Another promising area is SAT. SAS fall into three categories; SIMO, MISO, and MIMO. MIMO has attracted the most attention recently because it can not only eliminate the adverse effects of multipath propagation, but in some cases can turn it into an advantage.
There is an entire segment of the antenna industry focused on the design and development of SASs that is looking at how these devices can be applied to various platforms; vehicles and the IoE being high on that list. Notes Jim Nevelle, CEO of Kathrein “Antennas are where the rubber meets the road in any wireless system.” That puts them at the point of the connected part of connected car design.
SASs are a result of new technology being applied to old hardware. The antenna, itself, is nothing more than a dumb radiation element, whether it is a 1000 W tower antenna or a micro-sized chip antenna. The “smart” is in the antenna system, not the metal itself.
Today’s SASs are sophisticated enough to replace multiple antennas with one. For example, devices exist that can integrate Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, GSM, GPS, 3G multi-bands and 3.9/4G LTE into a single SAS.
There are several approaches to making the antenna smart. Essentially, smart antennas consist of a variety of transmission elements and DSP. This allows the antenna system to gain the intelligence needed to “adapt.” That is why MIMO technology is so popular. Such antennas use sophisticated algorithms in the signal processing section to analyze and adjust or adapt to the varying multiple signal conditions. An in-depth discussion of SASs is slated for an upcoming article, shortly.
One of the more bleeding edge applications of SASs comes in the form of DSA. While DSA covers a broad range of areas, for this discussion it focuses on the intelligent analysis of signals and dynamically, and in real time. The desired result is to improve spectrum efficiency via time- and space-dependent spectrum sharing among coexisting radio services, the exact environment of the connected car.
There are a number of proprietary technologies implement DSA. One uses algorithms to sense interference, and respond by dynamically shifting the transmission to the best available frequency. A derivative of that is using the algorithm to analyze the channel interference, but instead of changing to anther channel, the DSA can analyze the signal with respect to the interference and continue to use the channel, but with degraded efficiency. This is particularly effective with MIMO systems, and results in much better link reliability.
SASs can use a multitude of approaches to mitigate interference and keep the reliability of the link as close to five-nines as possible. With the connected car, five-nines isn’t an option, it is a requirement. The more advanced the signal processing, the more reliable the link becomes.
Connected Car Security
One thing about the connected car is that the more connected it becomes, the more vulnerable it is to hacking – and that has been shown in several different incidents of late. And security it tantamount. If a phone gets hacked, no one is going to get killed. But if a 60 mph car gets hacked and the control is compromised, the results can be disastrous.
“Security has suddenly become a very hot topic – because of incidents like the Chrysler Jeep hack, and the Tesla Linux system hack. And the reason for that is because suddenly more attack surfaces have emerged in cars,” notes Andrew Patterson, Director Automotive Business Development at Mentor Graphics.
There are so many facets to connected car security it would be interminably lengthy for a single article so certain angles were chosen for this article. For example, one perspective from Chowdary Yanamadala VP of Business Development at Chaologix, notes that “securing the car is relatively easy, compared to the bigger systems it will connect with. A more pressing problem is how all of this will plug and play into the overall system.” That brings up interesting questions about even if the car is secure, what happens if the traffic control system is hijacked.
However, there are still issues that exist in connected car security. “In the connected car there are two main vectors we need to be concerned about,” says Yanamadala. “The first is V2V communications, the second is V2I, and they each have different challenges.”
With V2V communications, there is a large number of signals being passes back and forth. The common number is 1000 to 1500 received messages per second from cars within a near proximity (roughly 100 m). The most pressing issue is message authentication. “It is imperative that each message be authenticated. But to actually authenticate and verify each message is a monumental task,” note Yanamadala. “And the current state of cryptograph, the way it is deployed, cannot handle it, as is,” he adds.
This scenario has led to the development of a new branch of cryptography called high-speed cryptography. “The mainstream application for this technology will be the connected car,” notes Yanamadala.
This makes a lot of sense. Messages in cars will have to be verified in a very timely fashion. Imagine if there is a braking communication going between this car and the one in front. If the message verification takes seconds, the next thing the occupants of the car following might see would be the back seat of the car in front.
That is only one example, which can stratify across any number of V2V or V2I scenarios; lane changes, stop lights, emergency vehicles, etc. Expect that to be widely deployed within the connected car arena.
There are some solutions available, at least in concept. Figure 1 is an example of all of the attack surfaces the connected car will have.
Another solution is virtualization, which can sandbox safety-critical components such as motive, steering and braking from components that are not safety related, such as entertainment applications.
V2V and V2I are relatively recent developments and here is little cohesion among the players, both hardware and software. That spurns a lot of solutions, from both camps. Some are in deployment, most still on the drawing board, especially with respect to the interconnect to the IoE. Vehicular security is a work in progress and still has a long way to go.
To create and develop secure cars and other road vehicles will be a rather arduous process. But on the brighter side, there is a lot of work going on, in all camps; auto manufacturers, security vendors and security hardware players. High-speed cryptography algorithms promise to bring solid security to the vehicular platform. Once they get some traction, expect things to ramp up much faster in the vehicular security arena.
Also expect to see new approaches to wireless vehicular technology that will make all the various wireless flavors play nice. This will be a challenge. There are so many nuances in both the closed RF space in the vehicular interior as well as the scope of the frequencies in V2V and V2I.
Overall, the amount of expected revenue that connected cars will generate is monumental. That has a way of bringing opposing forces and self-interests to the bargaining table. We’ll see just how many carrots will need to dangle to get that happening.
DSA – Dynamic Spectrum Access
DSRC – Dedicated short-range communications
EMI – Electromagnetic Interference
GLONASS – Global Navigation Satellite System
ISM – Industrial, Scientific, Medical
LTE – Long Term Evolution
MIMI – Multiple Input Multiple Output
MISO – Multiple Input Single Output
NFC – Near-field Communications
OOBE – Out of Band Emission
OTT – Over-the-Top
PIM – Passive Intermodulation
SAS – Smart Antenna Systems
SAT – Smart Antenna Technology
SIMO – Single Input Multiple Output
V2I – Vehicle to infrastructure
V2V – Vehicle to Vehicle