Study: Who will control the data for autonomous vehicles?

Posted Mar 3, 2019 by Tim Sandle
Self-driving cars, like many inventions of the data-driven age, collect huge volumes of data, relating to the performance of the car and geospatial information. Who will, and who should, own this data? A new study assesses the importance.
Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess showed off the "I.D. Vizzion"  concept car  which is also con...
Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess showed off the "I.D. Vizzion" concept car, which is also conceived as being electric and offering autonomous driving
Researchers from Dartmouth College have questioned the ownership of data in relation to autonomous vehicle technology. As self-driving cars advance, there will be a vast quantity of data amassed from navigational technologies. This leads to important questions that need to be asked about data privacy, ownership, cybersecurity and public safety. This is in the context of the mapping data being collected and analysed by the companies that manufacture the navigation technology.
One use that companies will make of the collected geospatial data is to develop and design new maps. These are produced through sophisticated and proprietary combinations of sensing and mapping technologies. These technologies feature continuous, multimodal and extensive data collection and processing.
Such maps will be able to identify the spaces within which people live and travel. While this can help to promote technological innovation, it raises privacy questions. The researchers are calling on the developers of the ‘black boxes’ that will be integral to autonomous cars to be more open as to what happens with the data and for the navigation devices themselves to have greater transparency.
According to lead researcher Professor Luis F. Alvarez León: “Self-driving cars have the potential to transform our transportation network and society at large. This carries enormous consequences given that the data and technology are likely to fundamentally reshape the way our cities and communities operate.”
The new research paper proposes that governments should enact legislation that allows future autonomous cars users to unlock the ‘black box’ and understand what data is being used for and why. As León states: “oversight of the self-driving car industry cannot be left to the manufacturers themselves.” The paper also calls for developers to use open-source software, which will enable an understanding of what is happening with the data.
There is also a call for greater understanding of security risks and the extent that data can be taken from car navigation systems.
The discussion has been developed in a paper published in the journal Cartographic Perspectives. The research paper is titled “Counter-Mapping the Spaces of Autonomous Driving.”