Survey Reveals Cyber, Quality Challenges of Vehicle Connectivity

Addressing the challenges will require stronger collaboration within and outside the automotive ecosystem.

Developing a next-generation data center on wheels will require a broader automotive ecosystem involving experts in software, cybersecurity, data storage, artificial intelligence/machine learning, networking and hyper-scale computing. (Molex)

Cybersecurity is viewed as the number one challenge to solve for next-generation vehicles, according to findings from a global survey of automotive industry insiders. The complicating twist is that many automotive stakeholders lack cybersecurity expertise. For that reason, many OEMs and suppliers are “making significant investments and hiring software developers, security experts, data scientists and others well-versed in cybersecurity to fortify their software, and reduce hacking risks,” said Mike Bloomgren, Molex senior VP and president of the firm’s Transportation & Industrial Solutions division.

“The formation of industry partnerships across the digital technology landscape will prove essential to accelerating the pace of change,” said Molex’s Mike Bloomgren. (Molex)

Electronics supplier and connectivity innovator Molex and distributor Mouser Electronics commissioned the Data Center on Wheels survey, conducted by Dimensional Research. The online survey, conducted January-February 2022, polled 519 individuals from 30 countries—qualified participants in engineering, R&D, manufacturing, and other roles. Respondents working for automakers, Tier 1 and Tier 2 suppliers, and contract manufacturers were asked 20 questions relating to in-car and out-of-car digital technologies.

More than half of the survey respondents (54%) cited cybersecurity as the toughest challenge to solve. From a user perspective, data privacy is the overarching concern. “Users expect extra measures of protection to be taken in safeguarding personal data that is collected, accessed, and shared while being transported to their destinations,” Bloomgren observed. Other top challenges cited by survey participants include software quality (41%), connecting the vehicle to the cloud (29%), and software stack integration (26%). A whopping 67% of respondents believe software will cause more issues than hardware in digitally connected vehicles.

The Data Center on Wheels survey compliments previous Molex automotive surveys, including 2021’s Innovations in Automotive Electrification. (Molex)

According to 45% of those polled, automotive ethernet and other in-car connectivity enablers have had the most impact on vehicle architectures and driving experiences over the past five years, followed by data storage systems and cloud computing (both at 43%). Respondents expect dynamic changes in the next five years. The biggest influencers were predicted to be immersive user experience/user interface (39%), followed by 5G, vehicle-to-everything (V2X) communications, and other out-of-car connectivity items (32%) . Connectivity challenges ranged from bandwidth and quality of service to coverage and latency.

“Addressing these challenges will require stronger collaboration within and outside the typical automotive ecosystem to ensure access to road and telecom infrastructure for seamless communications and over-the-air software updates,” Bloomgren noted.

With digital technologies underpinning automated and autonomous vehicles, respondents were asked to predict how fast vehicles will reach specific SAE levels of driving automation. Within 10 years, 27% of respondents expect SAE Level 4 automated driving as a standard feature in half of all the new vehicles sold, while 15% believe SAE Level 5 will be available in that timeframe. Naysayers (3%) believe Level 4 will never happen, and 4% feel Level 5 will never materialize.

In addition to solving cybersecurity, software quality, and connectivity issues, a must-have for vehicles operating within a digital technologies sphere is matching, or exceeding, what’s possible with smart phones and other personal devices. “The most difficult challenge for next-generation vehicles is integrating the different technologies to give consumers the in-vehicle experience that best replicates what they have become accustomed to in their everyday lives,” Bloomgren stated.