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October 8, 2018

Q&A: Learn more about new ITU work on vehicular multimedia

By ITU News

A new ITU Focus Group on ‘Vehicular Multimedia’ aims to bring an enhanced audiovisual experience into our vehicles by capitalizing on the latest advances in connectivity and multimedia technologies. The group is open to all interested parties.

The Focus Group will build on over a decade of ITU experience in vehicular multimedia, work that has featured a strong focus on ensuring that multimedia does not exacerbate driver distraction.

BlackBerry will host the first meeting of the Focus Group this week in Ottawa, Canada, 11 October.

To learn more about the forces at play in vehicular multimedia, ITU News interviewed Focus Group Vice-Chair, Gaëlle Martin-Cocher, Standards Director at BlackBerry.

BlackBerry has been a key contributor to ITU’s work to limit driver distraction. Could you tell us more about the latest advances at the intersection of vehicles and multimedia? Do these advances bring us new opportunities to overcome the distraction challenge?

One of the trends we’re seeing is that increasing numbers of vehicles are rolling off production lines with more intuitive, feature-rich user interfaces that have been outfitted with things like hands-free technologies and voice-command functions. While these technologies are great in that they help decrease drivers’ distraction by limiting physical interactions with vehicles, the drawback is that when drivers have them at their disposal, they tend to rely on them more. Somewhat counterintuitively, with this reliance on autonomous systems and the belief that they will compensate for human error, often times drivers end up becoming more distracted with the various screens and features presented to them.

Take, for instance, acoustics. With a cacophony of content sources in the cabin, the “noise” level inevitably ends up increasing. This in turn has the potential to become a safety-critical issue as it can interfere with the voice-recognition system or distract the driver. Leading automakers understand that the auditory dimension is a fundamentally important part of the experience of their products and new technologies and better acoustic processing in the cabin will be needed to ensure safe driving and prevent drivers from becoming distracted.

The introduction of automated driving will depend on the emergence of enabling regulation. How will regulation affect innovation in vehicular multimedia, also considering the movements towards higher levels of automation?

The more automated a vehicle becomes, the more media services will be connected and personalized for drivers and passengers alike. The main regulations that will have a significant impact on vehicular multimedia services relate to user data and privacy. For instance, if a vehicle’s multimedia service is personalized based on a user ID, the service would need to comply with European GDPR regulations where user consent needs to be obtained before any data can be gathered. In the U.S. regulations in place require that automakers could not collect Personally Identifiable Information (PII) from a vehicle’s safety system.

We may also see the emergence of different regulations around different types of data – for instance, data that can be gathered from the personalized multimedia services (i.e. apps, music, etc.) that a driver or passenger accesses from within their car, versus the data that is produced by the safety-critical systems such as the steering wheel, brakes or the engine.

I believe there is sufficient time for the right regulatory framework to be put in place for advancements in vehicular multimedia to move in tandem with advancements in autonomous vehicles. To enable progress, it is critical that a regulatory framework be developed at a global level to avoid a patchwork of local rules and then harmonize those standards across borders.

The growing need for high-precision navigation was one of the key motivations behind the establishment of this Focus Group. Why is this need growing, and what are the key technical challenges to be addressed in this arena?

Long gone are the days when you could rely on a trusty old Atlas in your glovebox to get you from A to B. High-precision maps are in demand more than ever before and will continue to be created from both embedded sensors within infrastructure and data collected on the ground. Our world is constantly changing and that’s all the more true and all the more visible at the local level. Local changes happen all the time. A patch of black ice can cause an accident, road construction ends up taking longer than expected, a road is closed due to a parade, traffic is snarled because of a high profile event. Indeed, these changes may be seasonal, permanent, or weather or event related, but the bottom line is that there will always be a vehicle that will be the first to encounter such changes. This information needs to be updated as soon as possible and communicated quickly for other vehicles to benefit from it. Additionally, the precision of the information will be crucial for collision avoidance and advance decision-making in autonomous vehicles.

Advances in technology most often give rise to new security and data protection requirements. Will this be the case with advances in vehicular multimedia?

Yes, of course. The car has evolved into a complex computer network on wheels that now contains over 100 million lines of code, more software than in a Boeing 787. As the scale and complexity of software and associated multimedia systems inside a vehicle grows, so too does the attack surface, which makes the vehicle more vulnerable to cyberattacks. For instance, hackers can access a vehicle through a non-critical system and tamper with or take over a safety-critical system, such as the steering, brakes or engine systems. With modern vehicles containing the most complex software ever deployed, the need for robust cybersecurity is clear and present. BlackBerry has a broad portfolio of products that can be leveraged to mitigate such cybersecurity attacks.

Join the group’s mailing list, request access to documents and sign-up to participate on the homepage of the ITU Focus Group on ‘Vehicular Multimedia’.
Gaëlle Martin-Cocher joined Research in Motion / BlackBerry in 2007 with over ten years of experience in the telecommunications industry, where she contributed towards the business and technical development of telecommunication and broadcasting products. She is involved in a variety of international standardization fora, contributing to multimedia standards developed by ITU, ISO, 3GPP, OMA (Open Mobile Alliance), W3C, IETF and ETSI. Her activities covered product requirement specification, system architecture definition and extensive involvement with standardization groups and industry trade shows.
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Q&A: Learn more about new ITU work on vehicular multimedia

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