Intel’s automotive plans herald the ever connected future

We know that high end cars can have upward of 450 semiconductors inside them these days, but Intel wants a share of that pie and is outlining plans on how just it will do that at CES this year.

Staci Palmer, general manager of Intel’s Automotive Division chatted to us about the company’s plans, acknowledging there are a number of problems associated with the future.

For one thing, she said, there were a number of interesting problems that car manufacturers needed to address. Some of these relate to safety – for example it is all very well having a fully fledged “infotainment” system in a car but you don’t necessarily want the driver to see what passengers would be happy seeing. God I hate that runt of a word, infotainment.

There are some technical matters that are important to such systems being pervasive in cars in the future. For one thing, a car driver doesn’t want to have to wait for her or his system to boot – and so that demands real time operating systems and other matters familiar to computer people, such as the footprint size of the software and the memory it consumes.

Palmer sees a future where cars can connect to other cars, to roadways and to other connected devices. But that begs the question of security. Just a week or so ago McAfee warned that the internet of things could lead to a future where devices everywhere stand the possibility of being hacked.

Voila! McAfee is now a subsidiary of the Mighty Intel and so is in a poisition to make such systems secure. Intel is working with a number of car makers about common technology building blocks. The Geneva Consortium, which Intel belongs to, is working on open source software and addressing these technical, and other matters.

There are aspects to this internet of things that really are profoundly concerning, however. Privacy is one of them. No one can doubt that if all cars are all wi-fi or LTE connected, busybodies in government will no doubt want access to where exactly where people are, where people have been, and where people are going. The upside, of course, is that licences, car tax and insurance will all be digitised too, and if a car doesn’t check out on the police database, menaces driving without isurance or without passing a test will be easily identifiable.