Cyber expert believes driverless cars are not too far away

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A global Cybersecurity conference in Belfast has heard that driverless cars on our roads are not as far away as people think.

The Centre for Secure Information Technologies (CSIT) at Queen’s University Belfast held the 16th Annual Conference on Privacy, Security and Trust at Titanic Belfast.

Cybersecurity experts and leaders from the business community participated in the Industry Summit, including the discussion; “Security and Trust at 70mph – Securing Connected Vehicles”.

Dr Madeline Cheah, cyber security innovation lead at Horiba MIRA, said that Northern Ireland is already seeing versions of connected vehicles on its roads.

She said: “We’re already seeing pre-cruisers, and automated cars with adaptive cruise control for instance.

“We’re on level two right now, and we’ll see level three in foreseeable future, which means the vehicle may be able to do everything but will need human intervention to take over at some point.

“Level five, which would be fully automated vehicles, is away off yet, giving us breathing space to think about the dangers involved.”

The conference included a range of key note sessions and panel discussions, with many focused on the safety and security of driverless cars.

“I think there is a sufficient number of challenges for public adoption of these vehicles, but that’s the thing with every new technology, plenty of people didn’t want automatic machines during the industrial revolution,” Dr Cheah added.

“A word that came up a lot was trust and trust worthiness, at a technological level, how do we know it’s safe? How do we know it does what it says?

“At a legal level, if something is wrong, who looks into it?

“At a personal level, would you want the kids in there?

“There are two ways to achieve connectivity, one is the vehicle itself, the car would be equipped with sensors to tackle terrain, but I wouldn’t be surprised if governments began upgrading infrastructure to bring autonomous vehicles onto the roads.

“It’s hard to say when we’ll see fully automated cars on the road, the creation of this system is driven by need, its unclear what demand might be just now, in terms of human demand we don’t know yet, but this will be a really big driver.”

This is the first time the global conference has been held in Belfast.

The conference runs until August 30 at Titanic Belfast.

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