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O2 develops cybersecurity blueprint for self-driving cars

David Murphy

O2 has completed a project funded by Innovate UK, the UK Government-funded innovation agency, and the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) to support the development of cybersecurity-testing capabilities for self-driving cars.

O2 provided access to its technical subject matter experts during the 12-week-long Baselining, Automation and Response for CAV Testbed (BeARCAT) cybersecurity project, working alongside partners including Cisco, Millbrook Proving Ground, and Warwick Manufacturing Group, the engineering, manufacturing, and technology department at the University of Warwick.

O2’s cybersecurity experts were responsible for determining the types of cyber-attack and attackers that pose a threat to CAV networks. Their investigation focused on developing models that could be used to classify, manage, and mitigate cybersecurity risks for intelligent transport systems, which will be vital for ensuring the safety and security of road users in the future.

The security of the UK’s transport system has never been more important, and this will only increase with time as cyberattacks become more complex and sophisticated. One Cabinet Office report calculated that cybercrime costs the UK economy £27bn annually, £21bn of that to businesses, £3.1bn to citizens, and £2.2bn to the Government.

Given the anticipated growth rates of the automotive cybersecurity market and the UK Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) market – estimated by Catapult Transport Systems to be worth £28bn in 2035 – O2 said that project BeARCAT generated valuable insights into the risks and challenges of the deployment of connected and automated mobility in public areas.

The project, which was led by Cisco and conceived at Millbrook Proving Ground, a leading vehicle testing facility in Bedford, ran from 1 January to 31 March 2020. As a feasibility study, recommendations were put forward by the consortium to Innovate UK to form the basis of a future cybersecurity CAV test facility, which outlined the design, development, and trialling of the outputs of the phase 1 study.

This news follows the announcement in September 2019 that O2 would provide the connectivity for a new ‘Smart Ambulance’ at Millbrook Proving Ground as part of a trial to revolutionise patient diagnosis and early treatment, minimising visits to hospitals, while providing an improvement in clinical outcomes.

Brendan O’Reilly, CTO at O2 said: “If connected and autonomous vehicles are going to become a permanent fixture in our day-to-day lives, it will be critical that governments and the public feel reassured that this technology is secure from cyber-attacks. We’re proud to have worked alongside other sector leaders to create a cybersecurity blueprint that will help the UK lead the way when it comes to innovation in the intelligent transportation systems of the future.”

Peter Stoker, chief engineer – Connected & Autonomous Vehicles at Millbrook added: “BeARCAT has been a great opportunity to bring together sector experts over the course of this study: O2’s in-depth telecommunications knowledge, Cisco’s insights, and Warwick Manufacturing Group’s academic vigour all brought something new to Millbrook and our testing business. Looking to the future, it’s clear that the UK is well positioned to be one of the leaders in testing connected vehicles in a controlled environment.”

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