Honda chose to reveal the 2016 Accord to the world from its new Silicon Valley research and development center. It's set to go on sale in August.
"As an industry, we are on the verge of some major transformational changes brought on by the convergence of what have been, to this point, largely disparate technology disciplines," Frank Paluch, Honda's president of R&D in the Americas, stated. "Honda will embrace and help lead this convergence. Our operations in Silicon Valley are a testimony to our focus on this new direction in our product and technology development efforts."
The new Honda Accord is designed to be friendly for both iPhone and Android owners and is the first Honda automobile to feature integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. With CarPlay, iPhone owners can use Siri voice control to access apps and features on their phones while driving. Android Auto, Google's solution for integrating Android into the auto experience, offers similar functionality to Android owners.
In addition to giving Accord owners the ability to use their smartphones safely while driving, Honda has added sensor technology that, in conjunction with software, is designed to help avoid hazards and prevent accidents. According to Honda executives, the company is aiming to use its Honda Sensing technologies to cut collisions by half in the next 15 years.
New Technologies Create New Security Concerns
But automakers like Honda will face challenges in ensuring that new technologies designed to improve driver experience and make driving safer don't leave their vehicles vulnerable in other ways. Following a recent demonstration that showed hackers can remotely disable a Jeep over the Internet, causing it to crash, Fiat Chrysler, Jeep's owner, issued a voluntary recall affecting 1.4 million Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler vehicles.
The Jeep hack was made possible by Fiat Chrysler's Uconnect software, which allows drivers to access phone, entertainment, navigation and vehicle diagnostics information through touch-screen consoles and smartphone apps. Because Uconnect is integrated with vehicle controls to enable actions like remote start and door locking, once it was compromised, hackers were able to use it to disturbing effect.
Naturally, early high-profile hacks will call attention to the security issues that exist around the connected car, and automakers will be forced to address security more proactively. But even as the connected car matures, there will likely remain a tension between convenience and driver safety and the security of the systems designed to improve convenience and driver safety.
To address that tension, automakers might want to consider the role third-party developers can play. While automakers can't rely on benevolent third parties to make their hardware and software secure, the more eyeballs they have on them, the better.
Some of those eyeballs could come from a growing number of programs automakers are creating for developers.
At the launch of the 2016 Accord, for instance, Honda also announced Honda Xcelerator, "a program designed for tech innovators across all funding stages who seek to transform the automotive experience." It offers funding, help with prototyping, office space and mentorship. While the focus of such programs is the creation of innovations, it won't be surprising if the automakers with the best security records going forward are the ones able to grow the strongest, most active developer ecosystems.