Time in the Connected Vehicle Ecosystem

Michael Calabro and James J. Ter Beest

Abstract: Timing and synchronization technologies are becoming an important component of connected vehicles and the infrastructure they interact with. Systems integration of disparate technologies and features (e.g. infotainment, telematics services, and sensor-driven control loops) on automotive platforms is occurring at a pace faster than typical automotive architectures can holistically and securely accommodate them. Significant evolution of common automotive architectures will need to occur to enable complete integration of these technologies. Timing and synchronization are critical enablers to this evolution. Emerging applications that require precise automotive system time include automotive-specific communication links, intelligent transportation systems, autonomous or assisted driving, and forensic incident response. Technologies nearing commercial deployment such as 802.11p (DSRC-PHY) incorporate requirements for traceable UTC, and leave the sourcing of this time to the implementer. Though technologies like GPS and other GNSS provide convenient mechanisms to deliver UTC at orders of magnitude more precision than is specified, their well documented vulnerabilities to interference and spoofing make them unsuitable to be the sole time-source of potential safety critical applications such as DSRC. It is important that the transportation industry consider assured time dissemination as they seek to integrate automotive platforms into intelligent transportation systems. Leaving secure time dissemination unaddressed in technologies that depend on traceable UTC increases the risk that the transportation industry widely deploys infrastructure that is simple to disrupt, deny, or manipulate. Vehicle system time in its current instantiation across the transportation industry is not mature enough to meet the timing and synchronization requirements of connected vehicle use cases such as autonomous systems, forensic incident response, and communications. As these use cases mature in vehicles, and are deployed commercially, secure and resilient time dissemination through the vehicle platform will become an issue the transportation industry will need to address so that time-reliant technologies do not pose cyber-physical vulnerabilities to consumers and liabilities to automotive and transportation providers.
Published in: Proceedings of the 48th Annual Precise Time and Time Interval Systems and Applications Meeting
January 30 - 2, 2017
Hyatt Regency Monterey
Monterey, California
Pages: 387 - 395
Cite this article: Calabro, Michael, Beest, James J. Ter, "Time in the Connected Vehicle Ecosystem," Proceedings of the 48th Annual Precise Time and Time Interval Systems and Applications Meeting, Monterey, California, January 2017, pp. 387-395.
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