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Driverless cars and the cloud: Without trust, no revolution!

Without high-availability data from The Cloud, driverless cars will have to remain in the garage. And only if 100% security is guaranteed in this case, this technology can revolutionize traffic.

The White House publishes guidelines for the use of autonomous vehicles on public roads. Driverless cars with passengers are currently traveling on British roads for the first time. The Uber service has taken four driverless cars into operation in Pittsburgh. Taking the news coverage of the past few weeks as an indicator, cars with drivers will soon be obsolete - and instead of human drivers, autonomous vehicles will drive themselves.

These self-driving cars are not just a collection of innovative technologies. They are the result of smart algorithms that learn from past behavior and make real-time decisions on the basis of countless other data sources. They will find out where traffic jams up and will choose another route. They will be informed that behind the next curve, ice might be melting, and will decelerate automatically. And when oncoming traffic is approaching, they will know it long before a person can perceive it, thanks to networked sensors.

Autonomous cars need the cloud

Fewer accidents and well-rested people at the end of the journey - these are the advantages that manufacturers, technology companies and decision-makers in the politics of driverless cars strive for. Riding in the autonomous networked car of the future will be safer and more comfortable, that is for sure.

But on the way there, many open questions will need to be clarified. Are we ready to automate areas where lives are at stake? How will the legal system and the insurance system adapt to the new technology? And, more particularly, what about all the data needed to safely navigate driverless vehicles through a city?

In order to enable driverless cars to go somewhere, they will need a digital image of the current traffic situation in real-time - with a maximum delay of a few milliseconds only. The systems will need to recognize right away when others make mistakes or when there may be threatening situations. All this can only be done with the help of data linked to and processed in the cloud. Thus, cars should not only be able exchange information locally, but should also make it available to everyone else.

Today's mobile radio networks are still too slow for self-driving traffic. The telecommunications industry is already developing the 5G next mobile radio generation, however. It will be able to transfer data 1000 times as fast as today’s 4G. Its reaction time will be less than 5 milliseconds – this is the only way to guarantee safety on the road.

How can I be sure my car is not hacked?

However, whether people accept a technological innovation and make it part of their daily lives depends mainly on whether they have trust in it. This trust is not produced with the certainty of being safely transported from one place to another, however. It is also a question of data protection. How do you ensure that cars are not hacked? Who has the right to know where and how I move around the world? Who owns my data records - the car maker, or I, the car owner? And where is all this data processed and stored? In a cloud overseas or in a cloud located in a secure European data port like Switzerland?

One thing is certain: driverless cars can change our lives. However, this is only possible if people arrive safely - and their data must also be safely processed and stored

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