recommended reading

How Robots in Outer Space Are Influencing the Cars of the Future

fujji/Shutterstock.com

NASA engineers referred to the most crucial moments in the Mars Curiosity mission last summer as the "seven minutes of terror." During that time, without the guidance or control of any humans back on earth, the rover had to enter the martian atmosphere, descend from an initial speed of 13,000 miles per hour, and land on target in one insanely expensive, intact piece.

"And the computer," as the engineer in this dramatic little NASA trailer explains, "has to do it all by itself."

Perhaps this sounds like a leap too far in transportation technology, but if engineers can build a car-sized robot capable of managing its own internal errors in a first foray to the martian landscape, surely some less sophisticated but equally reliable systems could be built into our more terrestrial vehicles?

"Imagine the complexity in software and from the hardware perspective that’s necessary in order to launch that successfully in seven minutes," says Aziz Makkiya, a design telematics engineer at Ford. "That’s one of the experiences that we're trying to mimic in a smaller scale in the automotive world."

Cars are about to get substantially more complex, more reliant on computers. Soon enough, they'll automatically be talking to each other, to the infrastructure around them, to distant emergency responders. And this isn't just in the faraway world of driverless cars. Cars that still have people behind the wheel will have "connected vehicle" technology in them that simply makes them safer, by for instance registering the presence of nearby speeding cars.

All of this technological promise, though, comes with greater risk. Parts breaks. Networks fail. Sometimes our phone calls get dropped or the power goes out. The real question about connected cars is actually the same one NASA asks about all those robots in space the agency invests millions of dollars in: How do we make sure this stuff never fails?

Read more at The Atlantic Cities

(Image via fujji/Shutterstock.com)

Threatwatch Alert

Thousands of cyber attacks occur each day

See the latest threats

JOIN THE DISCUSSION

Close [ x ] More from Nextgov
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from Nextgov.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

    Download
  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

    Download
  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

    Download
  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.