Technology to the rescue of technology to counter car theft

At least two solutions are currently in development using advanced technologies to counter vehicle theft.

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• Read also: It is possible to protect yourself against auto theft

BMW’s motorcycle branch unveiled iFace in April, which will be presented at shows this fall before finding itself first on boxer-engined models “among the most sought after in the world by thieves”, admits the company in a press release.

The system was developed in collaboration with the director of the institute of ophthalmology at the University of Munich. It “offers on the one hand facial recognition of the motorcyclist’s face and on the other hand an iris-cornea comparison of the eyes for definitive identification.”

Thanks to infrared, the concept will be functional in the dark.

BMW’s motorcycle division has developed a facial recognition system to protect against theft. It even works through a tinted visor.

Photo from BMW Motorrad website

And with iris-cornea identification, there’s no need to remove your helmet, says the German manufacturer.

The sprinkler sprinkled!

The system, which is not visible from the outside, communicates with the BMW eCall emergency network in the event of an attempted theft.

And if the thief has the bad idea to try to outwit him, his biometric data (face or eye) will be recorded by the network for later identification.

BMW says it has been field-testing iFace for three years with a Bavarian police department and a theft protection specialist.

Coming soon

Still in Germany, Continental, one of the three or four largest car parts suppliers, is developing a driver identification system, called Driver Identification Display, with the facial recognition specialist trinamiX.

A sensor at the base of the instrument cluster recognizes the driver’s face through the spokes of the steering wheel to enable starting.

Auto theft

A view of the Driver Identification Display camera inside the display screen.

Photo taken from the Continental website

“The same software and hardware elements can be leveraged (by automakers) to design vehicle access solutions to unlock the vehicle by showing your face,” said Sebastien Fillenberg, Continental Communications.

The innovation also recognizes human skin to prevent the use of a photo, for example, to seize the vehicle.

Mr Fillenberg says his company could provide the system to automakers for it to be on cars in 2026.

The Driver Identification Display will also make it possible to make secure payments, says Continental, and to monitor the driver’s attention, a function which will soon be compulsory in Europe.

Drive without a key

Genesis, the high-end branch of the Hyundai, claims to have launched the first facial recognition system on a car with its GV60, available in Canada.

Auto theft

Photo from Genesis website

A sensor on the pillar to the right of the driver’s door uses facial recognition for unlocking. Then, the start is carried out with a button recognizing the fingerprint.

An electronic key is always supplied with the vehicle. In its communication Genesis presents the system as a practical advantage and makes no reference to better protection against theft.

Auto theft

It is possible to start the Genesis GV60 with your fingerprint.

Photo from Genesis website

“I tried the system. It works very well, ”says Jesse Caron, of CAA-Quebec.

Data security

“But there are privacy issues. Genesis assured us that the data did not leave the vehicle. But at the same time all vehicles are connected today. Would it be possible to hack the vehicle to obtain personal data? What happens when the vehicle is resold? If personal data circulates, do we gain from it?” asks Mr. Caron.

For Continental’s solution, Sebastien Fillenberg was reassuring about data security and the possibility of resetting the system, as with a telephone for example. However, this security will be partly linked to the will of the manufacturers who will buy the system.

“All biometric data is processed in a trusted runtime environment that protects data from unwanted access, leaks and hacking. Depending on what the vehicle manufacturer prefers, there are ways to include legal and scheduled reset options (selling the vehicle, adding a driver for example) performed by an authorized garage,” he says.

The solution?

Ryk Edelstein of 5-L Technology takes issue with whether biometric information can be effective against theft.

“It would have little purpose other than to be a deterrent, unless some component of the credential is used to enable encrypted communication for vehicle control. The problem here is to implement a platform that cannot be so easily compromised.

“If the automotive industry mimicked the aerospace industry by embedding cryptographic certificates into the communication used in automobiles, the ability to steal a car would no longer be accessible to most common thieves,” he believes.

Do we want to stop the flight?

Mr. Edelstein also wonders about the auto industry’s motivation to correct the problem and that of the insurance industry to put pressure on manufacturers.

“If car theft leads to new purchases, any effort to address this issue will lead to lower sales. Insurers will only worry when claim payments exceed forecasts. And if that happens, insurers will pass the increase on to consumers. At the end of the day, someone has to stop the cycle and insist that the auto industry take theft seriously and be required to take action.

Jesse Caron, of CAA-Quebec, would also like manufacturers to look more seriously at the problem created by new technologies.

“We have not heard a response from them,” he concludes.

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