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18 December 2020

5G, AI, Cybersecurity are key enablers of the future mobility and the energy transition

Ribeiro, Sayyad Khodashenas, i2CAT

In this interview, IMET talked with Eunice Ribeiro and Pouria Sayyad Khodashenas from i2CAT Foundation to explore how emerging digital technologies, such as 5G, Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity, are key enablers of the future mobility and the energy transition.

 

The mission of the i2CAT Foundation is to design and build  the digital society of the future based on research and innovation in advanced digital technologies. To build this vision, both digital and green transitions are essential for building blocks and should progress side by side in close synergy towards climate neutrality and sustainable growth.

How are digital technologies empowering the future of mobility and the energy transition?

We are already surrounded by digital technologies, and the same applies to the modern vehicles and the energy grids. Connected and smart features of the latest car releases in the market and what is known nowadays as smart grids has already a great amount of digital technologies, such as different types of connectivity which are commonly known as Internet of Things, some early applications of Artificial Intelligence, among other. The digital transformation is happening everywhere and everyday we get a bit closer to what we could think of as “the future”. By working at i2CAT, I am excited to experience everyday the early proof of concepts, trials and demonstrations of technologies in different sectors. It is thrilling to be part of the full value chain of innovation. Regarding the future of mobility, we envision it through different dimensions, such as safer roads with zero fatalities, greener roads with zero-emission, inclusive mobility for all, and strengthened competitiveness of European industries. Technology will accelerate this vision by breaking silos and democratising more and more the access to innovation. This is also a great driver to make the energy transition happen through electromobility, renewable energies and the latest generation of batteries. 

"Regarding the future of mobility, we envision it through different dimensions, such as safer roads with zero fatalities, greener roads with zero-emission, inclusive mobility for all, and strengthened competitiveness of European industries. Technology will accelerate this vision by breaking silos and democratising more and more the access to innovation."

 

Why is this vision not yet a reality today, if technology is already among us? What are the challenges that digital technologies are facing today?

Besides the strengths and the opportunities that we like to claim about digital technologies, we also see the threats and the weaknesses. For instance, regulation is still a hurdle for many digital innovative solutions to take off. As an example, we are participating in two cross-border projects (5GCroCo and 5GMED) for autonomous mobility which connect cities in different countries traversing their borders, and a great part of the effort is dedicated to important innovation enablers, such as standardisation and European regulation in different countries.  

An example of threat would be that most of the digital technologies, in particular connectivity, come with a great deal of vulnerability. For this reason, i2CAT is coordinating the CARAMEL project which focuses on cybersecurity issues for different types of modern vehicles, such as connected, autonomous and electrical vehicles. Early emerging technologies (like 5G) and even the smart charging of Electric Vehicles introduce cybersecurity gaps, not addressed satisfactorily yet. Considering the entire supply chain of automotive operations, CARAMEL targets to introduce commercial anti-hacking products for the European automotive sector and to demonstrate their value through extensive attack and penetration scenarios. This is highly relevant to empower intelligent mobility and in particular the energy transition. If we lose the trust of the end user, it might jeopardize the whole investment and the potential benefits that technology can bring to our lives.

"i2CAT is coordinating the CARAMEL project which focuses on cybersecurity issues for different types of modern vehicles, such as connected, autonomous and electrical vehicles. Early emerging technologies (like 5G) and even the smart charging of Electric Vehicles introduce cybersecurity gaps, not addressed satisfactorily yet."

 

AI based cybersecurity for connected and automated vehicles

 

What is the i2CAT Foundation doing to overcome these issues? 

We apply innovation ecosystem strategies in our projects. Collaboration with different value chain actors (public or private sector) is key to build solutions that will survive the mentioned hurdles of regulation and user acceptance. Our main objective is always to achieve a transformative impact in society. 

Would you give any advice to policymakers?

Policymakers have a key role in influencing strategic choices for digital technologies investments and consolidating technology evolutions. With the increased pace of roll-out of new technologies, it would be great if policymakers made efforts to be involved in innovation projects since their early beginnings. It would allow a better understanding of how technologies are maturing and how political measures and regulations can enable further benefits to society.
 

*Eunice Ribeiro is Director of the EC R&I Strategy and Policy department, and Pouria Sayyad Khodashenas is Coordinator of the Cooperative, Connected and Automated Mobility (CCAM). Both work for the i2CAT Foundation and are based in Barcelona.