Author: alexandersoley

Security and Connected Cars: Threat Not Limited to Autonomous Vehicles on RTInsights

Security and Connected Cars: Threat Not Limited to Autonomous Vehicles on RTInsights

Here is another article I wrote for RTInsights. Here is a taste of my article on the state of cyber security and the connected vehicle. Just because your vehicle cannot drive itself does not mean your vehicle is safe from hacking You can find the full article at

When it comes to cybersecurity and connected vehicles, you may think of autonomous cars. But the threat is not restricted to self-driving vehicles.

When it comes to cybersecurity and the connected vehicle, people tend to think of the most extreme situations regarding insecure autonomous vehicles. They may think about a terrorist hacking an autonomous vehicle and directing it at a population center, or they think of a kidnapper, finding the car with the president in it and telling it to go somewhere else.

What people don’t realize, however, is that this threat is not restricted to autonomous vehicles. We already live in a world in which the police can ask General Motors’ (GM) OnStar service to force a stolen vehicle to slow down and it is already possible to be in a vehicle and lose control of it to a hacker.  If we want to advance the Internet of Cars, we need to secure our vehicles.

Internet of Boats: Are Self-Driving Ships About to Set Sail? on RTInsights

Internet of Boats: Are Self-Driving Ships About to Set Sail? on RTInsights

Here is another article I wrote for RTInsights. Here is a taste of my article on what the Private Sector is doing in the Internet of Boats. You can find the full article at

Businesses as large as Yamaha and Rolls Royce and as small as Sea Machines and Saildrone believe they can profit from autonomous ships and are sinking a lot of money in the technology.

Autonomous vessels are not just for the militaryacademics or hobbyists. Businesses both big and small are exploring the technology. Companies are investing in automation because they think it can improve their businesses in different ways such as making boating safer and more efficient, educing the number of crew members and alleviating the need for keeping qualified crew members on board for months on end.

Eliminating the crew alone would slice the ship’s costs by up to 44 percent by removing the need for salaries, quarters, air-conditioning and so much more. In fact, such a change could make the ship 5 percent lighter and use 15 percent less fuel. Eliminating the crew is currently prohibited by the International Maritime Organization, a United Nations agency that handles shipping, so that will not happen in the short term.”


Autonomous Boat Innovation Will Come From Hobbyists and Academia on RTInsights

Autonomous Boat Innovation Will Come From Hobbyists and Academia on RTInsights

I am continuing to publish my articles on RTInsights; here is a taste of my article on autonomous boats built by hobbyists and those in Academia. To read the full article, go to

Organizations as large as the U.S. Navy and Rolls Royce will indeed bring innovations such as autonomous submarines, but hobbyists, academics and students are also keys to innovation.

Technology is not just for rich people and governments. While history is filled with the Alexander Graham Bells who create the telephone and the Henry Fords who mass-produce automobiles, people often forget the smaller projects.

There were the fun early moments in the history of the Internet of Things (IoT), such as the Carnegie Mellon students who created a program back in the 1980s that allowed them to track whether their favorite Coca-Cola dispenser had soda in it and whether it was cold through the Internet. There were the “phreaks,” college students and engineers who learned how to manipulate the late 20th century phone system into giving them free conference calls and teaching them a great deal about how telecommunications worked. You will not learn the future if you look only at how governments are modifying the IoT. Unknown hobbyists, students and academics make their own mark on the history of technology.”

Why the U.S. military is gung-ho about autonomous boats on RTInsights

Why the U.S. military is gung-ho about autonomous boats on RTInsights

I am continuing to publish my articles on RTInsights; here is a taste of my article on autonomous naval vessels. To read the full article go to

The U.S. Navy is investing in autonomous boats for reconnaissance, payload delivery, and acting as decoys. but it is clear they can do more than that both militarily and eventually in the private sector.

Unlike autonomous motorcycles, autonomous boats make sense at first glance, as well as after considering them for several hours. Boats are useful for transporting goods and people over long distances. Given the terrors of the sea, the promise of a boat in which fewer humans are at risk is a real boon.

Given the breadth of the subject of autonomous boats, it is best to discuss it in parts. To begin, I’ll look at the United States Armed Forces’ work in naval automation, especially because the technology they develop can be applied to civilian use.

Why autonomous motorcycles are destined for the road

Why autonomous motorcycles are destined for the road

RTInsights just published my article on automating the motorcycle. To read the full article go to


While autonomous motorcycles aren’t keeping pace with self-driving automobiles, automating parts of the motorcycle will make them safer and has applications in other industries.

It seems ridiculous to even suggest a self-driving motorcycle. If you are in an autonomous car then you are free to watch videos or write reports. Trying the same on a motorcycle is difficult at best, dangerous at worst.

Although autonomous motorcycle technology may not allow motorcyclists to juggle on the go, they can make them safer and may have applications outside the vehicle market.

If you have ever lost your luggage

If you have ever lost your luggage

RTInsights is now publishing my articles! If you would like to see this week’s edition on how the IoT can help airline passengers track their luggage, check out my article at

Here is just a taste of the article:

“Recently, Delta Airlines was scheduled to take my family from Boston to Detroit to Rome, so we could drive to Tuscany, but the trip went off the rails. To make a long story short, due to weather conditions we were rerouted onto several flights that did not go as planned. We finally had to run to another terminal to fly with Air France.

Air France took us to Rome — but without our bags. The people at baggage claim were pleasant but could not give us any information, so they tried to placate us by saying the bags would likely arrive on the first flight the following day. We took them at their word and cut our trip to Tuscany a day short so we could go with our bags.

The bags did not arrive and accurate information was not forthcoming. We went to Tuscany and spent the next four days calling Delta, Air France’s bag tracking office, and Alitalia’s Rome office and received different answers until our bags finally arrived. What happened?”

While you are waiting: Distributed Computing Networks

While you are waiting: Distributed Computing Networks

How do you turn this off?

Our vehicles are parked 95% of the time. Our laptops are not always in our laps. Even smartphones, which are now seen by many as vital, do not always spend time in our hands. Furthermore, more of our devices now go to sleep instead of turning off, and some like the Apple TV no longer turn off at all. What does this mean, and does it matter? Some programs such as CrashPlan take advantage of the idle time by performing tasks such as backups and virus scans. A more imaginative and useful route would be to donate a device’s unused processing power to take part in distributed computing.

Distributed computing is a process where people yield access to the computer processing power found within the computer processing unit (CPU) and/or graphics processing unit (GPU) within their devices to a third actor, who uses these distributed computers to complete larger tasks. This practice is already being used in a number of computers and supercomputers around the world. Right now, many scientists use “volunteer computing ” for tasks such as modeling protein folding, modeling the transmission of malaria, and enabling earthquake monitoring. Today many research projects get the processing power for free, but in the future people may expect payment in return. Luis Sarmenta of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory discusses what he calls “paid volunteer computing” and points out several issues to consider. Companies need to make sure there are no cheaters who falsely claim they are contributing processing power. Companies must also be vigilant against espionage, since someone who enters the network may try to gather information and sell it to a corporate competitor, leaving the network’s owner vulnerable to theft. Companies may have to encrypt their networks. There is also a risk to the contributor to the network. One’s device could be unknowingly added to an illicit network, such as a botnet that is used to send distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attacks or spam e-mails. Finally, it is complicated how people should be paid considering the different kind of devices, how often they could contribute processing power, etc.
One example of a company that sells other users’ processing power is Peer Zone, which uses idle resources to test the performance of popular websites. They pay the people with the processing power on a per minute basis, regardless of the processing power of one’s computer, and limit the payment to $45/month. Paid volunteer computing has its growing pains.  CPUsage states that it has a glut of people willing to sell their CPUs’ idle time and a shortage of companies interested in it. Some, like Slicify, closed down after attempting to use other peoples’ idle time to compete with cloud computing companies such as Amazon and Microsoft. Perhaps the growing pains are due to the fact that this is a new market. Ultimately, paid volunteer computing could compete with immobile, expensive data centers because the companies do not own the computers and do not need the capital to buy the processing power. Paid volunteer computing may have the advantage in being more flexible then a data center.

The PlayStation 3’s Life with PlayStation client displaying a 3-D animation of a folding protein. The videogame console was once recruited by researchers to help model folding proteins for Stanford.

There is no reason why paid computing should be limited to computers. Stanford University’s Folding@home used the processing capacity of networked computers and PlayStation 3s to model protein folding to help researchers study diseases until 2012. While refrigerators are not known for having a number of processors, in 2014 a smart fridge sent spam as part of a botnet, suggesting that it has processing power to spare. As discussed in a previous blog, vehicles can also be added to a distributed computing network, since they are parked on average 95% of the time. Those who want to volunteer processing power must take care to leave electronic control units (ECUs) available for critical situations. While adding refrigerators and vehicles to distributed networks may seem unorthodox, they have plenty of computing power to spare!