Innovation and Technology

Automated driving

Technological advancements on the road to automated driving are already showing up today in modern vehicles, which are increasingly equipped with driver assistance systems (DAS).

Automated driving and connectivity

Intelligent connectivity and digitization, both inside and outside the vehicle, will play an ever more important role in the future.

Automated driving refers to the capability of a vehicle to drive itself independently to a destination in realworld traffic, using its onboard sensors, associated software, and maps stored in the vehicle so that it can recognize its surroundings.

Depending on the use case, the vehicle is therefore able to carry out the relevant driving task. However, the automated driving functions may be considerably expanded in the medium and long term with the aid of connectivity.

Connectivity is the name given to communication between one vehicle and another, and between a vehicle and the infrastructure, for instance with traffic lights or traffic control systems. Within the field of connected mobility, car-to-X communication (C2X) refers to direct communication both between vehicles (car-to-car/C2C) and between vehicles and the stationary infrastructure (car-toinfrastructure/C2I). Car-to-X communication enables vehicles to collect information in a fraction of a second – for example about traffic light sequences and construction sites – either from preceding vehicles or from traffic management systems – and to process this information immediately.

The most important aspect here is road safety. Car-to-X communication warns and informs the driver within a short time about hazardous situations such as accidents, black ice, breakdown vehicles, and congestion along the route, even if they are not yet visible from the vehicle. During an automated journey, the vehicle could brake independently in such cases, or change lanes to pass the hazard at a safe distance without the driver having to intervene. Under adverse environmental conditions such as snow, fog, or dirt on the road surface, information that cannot be collected in full by the vehicle’s sensors can be supplemented with information arriving via car-to-X communication. This represents an ideal addition to automated driving.

Furthermore, innovative technologies make it possible to achieve greater comfort and significant time savings for the driver and the passengers. Intelligently connecting vehicles and parking spaces offers the potential of markedly shortening the time needed to find a parking spot and of the car simply parking itself at the press of a button. For example, a fully automated vehicle can find its allocated parking space in connected parking lots – without any driver. The driver first parks the vehicle in a special transfer zone and then activates the parking function. To pick up their vehicle, the driver activates the function in this zone and the vehicle arrives by itself to meet the driver.

Worldwide connectivity in the field of traffic, as part of the digital revolution, suggests possible solutions that combine greater safety, sparing use of resources, and mobility, plus growth and participation in that growth. Exchange of information, communication, and the use of telematics, that is, linking the fields of telecommunication and information technology, will all be of key importance for the future of automobiles and of traffic.

Top-Level security for data traffic

The continuing progress in automation and connectivity generates additional data and information flows within the vehicle. These flows are needed firstly for the assisted and automated driving and parking functions, and secondly for expanding the options for using information and for entertainment. Data protection and data security are of special importance in the development of these technologies. In order to ensure data protection and security, in 2014 the German automotive industry compiled a set of data protection principles to serve as the basis for secure and transparent data processing.

These principles include transparency, the right to control what happens with one’s own data, and data security. However, before the use of data can be discussed, it must be clear exactly which data we are talking about. When a vehicle is used, a large amount of information is continuously generated and processed, most of which is of a technical nature (machine data). However, the data created during motor vehicle use may, under certain circumstances, also be personal data in the meaning of the data protection legislation. The following categories may be distinguished to facilitate an understanding of the type of data in the vehicle:

Starting on April 1, 2018, the automatic emergency call will be legally required in all new passenger car models. When a severe accident occurs, information including the time and location of the accident and the direction of travel will be transmitted to an emergency call center. This enables initiation of rapid recovery measures.

This is technical data recording the status of the system and the environmental conditions. The information is generated by sensors, and evaluated by the relevant electronic systems in the vehicle. Most of it is transitory in nature and is stored only if an error is detected.

When vehicle services and online services are to be used, such as a concierge service, updating the navigation map, or personal Internet access in the vehicle, data are sent and received by the manufacturer’s server. For freight transport, telematics systems can help in managing the vehicle and the transport.


The customer has many ways of obtaining an overview of all the data categories and the purpose of the processed data, for instance from online services, portals, and user manuals.

Right to control over one’s data
The customer can independently deactivate certain services and delete stored data. At any time, they can withdraw their consent to data already provided being used by services. For additional services, data will then be transmitted only on the basis of either a legal permit or a contractual agreement.

Data security
Customers should be protected against manipulation and misuse of their data. This demands continual active further development of data security that is oriented to ongoing developments in IT. The automotive industry provides the technical and organizational measures for protecting the data generated in the vehicle. The VDA collaborates with the automotive industry to ensure that standards are established and continue to be developed for the software and hardware architectures in the vehicles and for remote access to the vehicle via the telecommunication networks. A high level of technical security can thus be guaranteed at all times; this includes the use of appropriate encryption technologies.

Sensitive areas within the vehicle are completely excluded from communication. Gateways and firewalls seal off those areas in the vehicle that are security-sensitive. This means that the vehicle can be used securely and continuously in all operating situations. It will never “freeze” like a computer because it incorporates features such as operating systems that are specially optimized for use in vehicles.

The automotive industry regards data protection and data security, transparency, and the customers’ right to determine what happens with their data as the basis for a relationship of trust.

Graham Smethurst
Graham Smethurst Head of Co-ordination Unit Networked and Automated Driving

Tel: +49 30 897842-426 Fax: +49 30 897842-7426
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