Intel Steps Up To Showcase Leadership In Autonomous Vehicles And The Internet Of Things


Gordon Moore mural at Intel’s Customer Experience and Integration Center, Chandler, Arizona.

Over the past few weeks, I have been with Intel Corporation learning about its Internet of Things (IoT) product roadmaps from security, healthcare, retail, energy, smart cities, and, perhaps most interestingly, how Intel is leveraging IoT to extend the customer experience. This week I will be in the Bay Area with Intel’s Autonomous Vehicle (AV) team getting a deeper dive into its vision for the future of mobility. Across the board, one of the things that has impressed me the most with Intel ’s overall IoT strategy is its focus on experience, rather than just on technology—although the tech is impressive too.

Moving autonomous vehicles beyond just a science experiment

Intel and its Mobileye division believe autonomous driving is not just a product; it is an industry. As the industry advances, Intel is working diligently to be the tip of the spear when it comes to safety, technology, standards, and sustainability. Recently, Intel’s Mobileye released a framework to help automakers, technology companies, and regulators to understand the fundamental pillars of safety assurance and economic scalability in this highly fragmented and heterogeneous marketplace.

The autonomous vehicle industry has progressed through various levels of automation. At Levels 1 & 2, the driver maintains control of the car, but the automobile can make split decisions such as deploying brakes on its own if needed. Level 3 refers to the vehicle taking over all driving functions, but the driver can disengage or re-engage as required. At Levels 4 & 5, the vehicle is fully autonomous—the human becomes a passive participant in the operation of the automobile. For example, a Level 5 car will not have a steering wheel or other human-operated controls such as stick shifts, pedals, or rear-view mirrors. Intel believes the initial use cases for Level 5 vehicles will be with ride-sharing, fleet automobiles, and trucking.

At Levels 4 & 5 the biggest conundrum for the industry is dealing with regulations and security. From a legislative perspective, there is not enough historical data or regulatory experience to fully understand the liabilities of autonomous vehicles. There are many questions that need addressing from a regulatory perspective, including:
    1. Should an intoxicated rider be charged with DUI in an autonomous vehicle?
    2. How would an autonomous vehicle take direction from police or firefighters?
    3. How would an autonomous vehicle deal with driver duties in the event of an accident?
    4. What happens if an autonomous fleet vehicle’s cargo flies off or becomes unstable?
    5. How are insurance, parking violations, and infringements handled if there are no occupants in the car?

Thankfully, Intel is developing framework and methodologies for addressing each situation—from conclusively evaluating and determining responsibility in the event of an accident, to dealing with the nuances of resolving legal issues.

Many organizations are looking at ways to provide foolproof security methods, to ensure that data collected from autonomous vehicles is secure, accurate, and scalable. Although autonomous vehicles offer a phase shift in convenience and efficiency, they present a whole new world of security challenges that need to be addressed before these vehicles reach critical mass. Sensors, cameras, and measurement systems create a significant cybersecurity attack surface. Intel and others in the industry (like Apple  Inc., Delphi Automotive, Google Inc., Microsoft  Corp., NVIDIA Corporation, and Qualcomm ) must lead the way in designing reference architectures, frameworks, and technologies to protect these automobiles and their passengers. While Blockchain is a promising way to secure and validate “black box” information in the case of an accident, additional security measures such as end-to-end solutions from line encryption, message signatures, multifactor or near field communications (NFC) authentication, and dynamic cryptographic procedures are critical components for an overall security solution. However, because most of these sensors and “gadgets” connect to the Internet through a standards-based ODB2 port, a remote hacker could potentially use this as an entry point into the vehicle’s most sensitive systems—brakes, accelerator, GPS, and other onboard solutions. Nobody wants their car to drop into reverse when they are going 70 KPH.

Intel and the Internet of Experience

One of the most exciting components of Intel’s IoT strategy is how it is using its technology to enhance user experience. A highlight of my time with the Intel team was touring their Customer Experience and Integration Center in Chandler, Arizona. Intel has developed many solutions for enhancing the customer experience, such its efforts to create a more interactive stadium experience for sports fans, using smartphones and sensors. If a customer wishes to buy the jersey of their favorite sports hero, they can have it delivered to a location near to where they are sitting. Fans can have food and refreshments brought directly to their seats and can participate in fan cheering/survey contests. Finally, if the toilet paper goes low in the stall at a stadium, officials are notified, and TP is delivered directly to the customer. My primary concern with all this innovation is our willingness to give up privacy for the sake of convenience—especially in the case of TP management.

Intel is doing an excellent job of working with manufacturing giants like Flex Ltd. and Jabil Inc. to deliver a broad range of IoT devices for healthcare, mobility, retail, 3D printing, connected cars, transportation and other IoT-connected devices. These organizations are pillars in a form-factor and user experience (UX) perspective, but they tend to lack an understanding of security and infrastructure considerations. By partnering with Intel , these organizations can bridge this security gap and build secure solutions for the industry. Moreover, Intel  has many opportunities to showcase its IoT strategy with critical partners in sports (F1, Major League Soccer, Rugby, etc.), healthcare (homecare, geriatrics, self-monitoring), and retail (smart textiles, NFC, and online pick-up and delivery). Having an end-to-end IoT experience will become more essential, and companies need a long tail engagement to ensure they match the market, technology, and trends to drive customer adoption. Intel is creating the right partnerships not just to be successful, but to be a leader in the device manufacturing market.

It will be interesting to see what happens over the next 2-3 years in IoT, especially with regards to artificial intelligence, automation, and machine learning. Further, while Blockchain seems to be a talking point, other security solutions from Entrust Datacard (Datacard Group), Zingbox, and upstart Authentag are showing considerable promise to secure end-point devices. Finally, Intel realizes the need to open themselves to open networking through Intel’s Wind River Titanium Cloud platform which supports Software Defined Networking (SDN) solutions like Inocybe’s open networking platform. SDN separates the operating system from the hardware to enable new services and solutions running on commodity hardware. These trends are creating a situation where Intel can be more competitive, innovative, and differentiated in the coming years. The game is on, and Intel seems to have a solid plan and a team to compete in the long run.