Self-driving cars have been making headlines lately as companies secure connections and make plans to start designing and producing completely computerised cars. With innovators pushing forward, the United Kingdom recently responded by publishing a Law of Robotics for the vehicles. The law lays out a number of principles, applicable from design to manufacture, which must be adhered to in order for these cars to hit to roads.
UK law addresses security in eight principles
The principles are the following (via The Register, “UK publishes Law of Robotics for self-driving cars) /1/:
- Organisational security must be owned, governed, and promoted at board level
- Security risks must be assessed and managed appropriately and proportionately
- Organisations must have products aftercare and incident response
- All organisations must work together to enhance the security of the system
- Systems must be designed using the defense-in-depth approach
- Software security must be managed over its lifetime
- Storage and transfer of data must be secure and controllable
- The system must be designed to be resilient to attacks and respond appropriately when defences or sensors fail
The majority of the principles in the new law address the security of software and the data it produces, requiring that this data be kept entirely traceable and transparent. The requirements point to Blockchain as a solution for keeping companies in adherence with these principles.
Centralised databases for self-driving cars irresponsible
Storing data responsible for protecting privacy and keeping drivers safe on the road in a centralised database would be nothing short of irresponsible. Blockchain is the distributed ledger technology behind Bitcoin, which is safe from manipulation because of its elaborate encryption. This puts organisations in the position to secure cars databases from attacks.
The distributed nature of the database is, however, what sets the technology apart in this case and makes it necessary for self-driving cars.
Blockchain necessary for legality
In a centralised database if the server fails, users can no longer access data. With Blockchain if one node fails, the remaining nodes stay intact and user can continue to access the data. In the case of self-driving cars, law will require organisations to support full data recovery for forensic purposes. The risk of failure of a centralized database is in this instance too high.
Furthermore, when software security must be managed over its lifetime, organisations need to be able to prove that they can recall their data in the long-term. Blockchain makes data completely transparent. Data extracted from vehicles can be saved into a Blockchain at frequent intervals chronologically – this will be important to ensuring transparent records.