Researchers at WMG, University of Warwick have demonstrated a number of innovations that they claim could improve the security and safety of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs)

With autonomous vehicles expected to become ever more widespread in the years ahead; the security of the connected systems that underpin much of the technology are a major priority for researchers.

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Under the WMG’s IoT-enabled Transport and Mobility Demonstrator project, four separate innovations, aimed at demonstrating how CAVs and roadside infrastructure can be connected more securely, were trialled on the campuses of the Universities of Warwick and Surrey, and Millbrook Proving Ground.

Developed thorough the EPSRC funded PETRAS Internet of Things Research Hub (a consortium of eleven leading UK universities), the technologies included so-called group signatures, a secure form of communications for vehicle platooning that limits the amount of data sent by individual vehicles and makes it harder for hackers to track vehicles over a long period of time.

The team also looked at authentication prioritisation, an approach that prioritises the messages a vehicle receives based on verified sender information; and Decentralised PKI, an edge-computing approach which enables vehicles to verify the identity of other vehicles far more rapidly than existing methods, in which public key information on other vehicle needs to be downloaded from the cloud.

A fourth innovation, Decentralised PKI with Pseudonyms, builds on this by periodically issuing new identities to vehicles on the road to provide privacy.

A follow up executive summary of the work makes a number of recommendations, including the deployment of more communication infrastructure and the need for an ability to test different types of cyberattacks on CAVs and roadside infrastructure. The summary also notes that 5G – which will ultimately be rolled out across the UK – should also be used to perform the testing.

Commenting on the research, project leader WMG’s  Professor Carsten Maple said:  “The cyber-security of CAVs is key to make sure that when the vehicles are on the roads, the data is trustworthy and that vehicle communications do not compromise privacy. We tested four innovations developed in the PETRAS Project, and being able to apply them to the real world is the first major step in testing security of CAV systems.”