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Tesla defends the need for connected cars before Congress

Tesla germany hamburgTesla Vice President of Corporate and Business Development Diarmuid O’Connell often represents the company for official government presentations. Last month, he spoke before California’s Air Resources Board to lobby for the acceleration of the state’s zero emission mandate. And this week, he joined several industry representatives in Washington to appear before the Subcommittee on Information Technology and Subcommittee on Transportation and Public Assets for a hearing on “The Internet of Cars”. According to Oversight (via Evannex), the hearing had two purposes:

  • To highlight how the automotive industry is tackling important issues around cybersecurity, spectrum, and privacy as the age of the connected vehicle rapidly approaches.
  • To give members of the Subcommittee an opportunity to learn about vehicle-to-vehicle communications technology and what it means for our future economy.

During his statement to the subcommittees, O’Connell said that Tesla acknowledges the legitimacy of the concerns over connected vehicles:

“The current safety upsides of connected vehicle technology are already measurable and real. Of course, there are some legitimate concerns of which prudent manufacturers should be aware. There are also sensible precautions that prudent manufacturers will take against these concerns.”

But despite the concerns, the executive argued that in order to maintain the trend of reducing automotive fatality and injury rate brought mainly through innovations with airbags and energy absorbing structures in the last decades, the industry will need to implement more active collision avoidance systems through connected vehicles. He warned that over regulations could slow down the pace of innovation of these active safety features.

O’Connell cited Tesla’s automatic emergency braking and Autopilot as examples of safety features implemented and improving through connectivity.

He then addressed the privacy and cyber-security concerns and suggested some precautions Tesla is taking with its approach to connectivity. Here’s the presentation starting at 46:13 when O’Connell makes his statement:

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