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V2X Technology: Can Openers, Hackers and Trapdoors

October 5th, 2019 by Michael Dyet

Hmmm, is it really safe to pry open the lid of V2X technology?

I had the opportunity this week to hear a keynote speaker presentation on Vehicle to Everything technology – aka C-V2X technology. It was an eye-opening hour. I will try to stick to the facts and not make this another axe-to-grind, technology Grinch post. But no guarantees.

First, a definition is in order. V2X is a wireless form of communication in which information is passed from a vehicle to any entity that could affect the vehicle and vice versa. It is the emerging technology that will eventually enable autonomous vehicles.

This means that devices in the vehicle have the ability communicate with other vehicles, with traffic light signals, with personal digital devices – just about any digital device you can imagine.

In the Smart Cities of the future, cellular V2X enabled autonomous vehicles will guide themselves around city streets without need for human intervention. It may be a decade or more before this becomes a reality. But make no mistake: It will happen.

I have railed against this coming revolution in previous posts. But the speaker I heard brought a new perspective on the subject. He put forward the view that the push for autonomous vehicles is all about safety and crash avoidance – removing the element of human error that is the cause of most automobile accidents.

I am not sure I buy into that viewpoint. But let us accept the premise for now. In theory, eliminating human error could dramatically reduce the occurrence of automobile accidents. But what about the human error factor that applies in the development of the technology?

The speaker also quoted an interesting and disconcerting statistic. The average vehicle on the road today has 100 million lines and counting of computer code. No doubt that figure will increase exponentially for autonomous vehicles.

Let’s put that second figure in numbers for dramatic impact: 100,000,000 lines of computer code. I am anything but a technology expert. But it seems to me this opens up endless possibilities of human error in the coding process. Can even the most skilled programmer effectively and exhaustively debug that much code? It may be a rhetorical question.

The other disturbing issue in the equation is cyber security. The speaker, to give him credit, showed a diagram of a car indicating all the potential points of attack for hackers. I did not have time to count them all, but there had to be at least 20.

Is the threat of hacking really an issue for V2X technology? Consider the fact that a hacker used an internet-connected fish tank – with sensors connected to a PC that regulated temperature, food and cleanliness – to hack into a casino’s computer system. No, this is not an urban legend. It really happened.

Human error hidden in 100,000,000 + lines of computer code. 20+ points of attack in an automobile for hackers to target. I am not convinced that equation computes to safety.

I have heard it said that technology is a can opener. It opens up wonderful possibilities, but also daunting liabilities. I am more than a little concerned about the trapdoors that V2X technology is opening.

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~ Michael Robert Dyet is also the author of Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel which was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at

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