Modern Trucks in the Data Network

A modern commercial vehicle is at the center of a multi-dimensional data stream that can increase safety and transport efficiency. Jürgen Bönninger, head of FSD Fahrzeugsystemdaten, explains by whom and how this data can be used.

Modern trucks generate lots of data that different parties want to access. CGI: Fabian Techel

Modern trucks generate lots of data that various parties would like to use. CGI: Fabian Techel

In its legal mandate, FSD Fahrzeugsystemdaten GmbH develops and distributes specifications and testing procedures for the general inspection of all vehicle types in Germany.

Car manufacturers regard vehicle-generated data as their property, while ­drivers assume that this data belongs to them. What is the current legal ­situation in Germany surrounding ownership of this data?

As a rule, there can be no ‘ownership’ of data. The data belongs to whoever possesses the data storage device – in the case of a car, it is the owner. However, a distinction must be made between the possession of, and the authority to use the data. Under data protection law, this would be the owner or driver of the vehicle. However, they are able to allocate the authority to access, process and evaluate certain data to third parties. In some cases – such as an accident or a legal dispute – it makes sense for an independent authority to assess this information for an expert report. Management of access to this data should be regulated by law and administrated by a trust center.

Jürgen Bönninger is Managing Director of FSD Fahrzeugsystemdaten GmbH. Photo: FSD vehicle system data GmbH

Jürgen Bönninger is Managing Director of FSD Fahrzeugsystemdaten GmbH. Photo: FSD vehicle system data GmbH

In addition to manufacturers and suppliers, leasing firms, insurers, mobile network providers, platforms such as Google and many other parties demand access to vehicle data. How can this dilemma be solved?

Under German data protection law, it always depends on what data was generated, saved and used, and to what purpose. As such, all parties that want access to the data must acquire comprehensible consent to use the data for a specific purpose. This consent is revocable at any time. This consent is referred to as the ‘opt-in.’ ‘Privacy by default’ ensures that the need for such consent is reflected ex works. Consent-by-default, or an ‘opt-out’ – under which the user must actively revoke or disable data sharing – is not permitted.

The increasing quantities of data also harbor the risk of potential misuse. How can this risk be minimized?

The best way to prevent misuse is by limiting the data to the required or legally mandated scope, and then immediately deleting the data when no longer needed. According to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), vehicle manufacturers must even consider data security during manufacture of the vehicle. However, there are as yet no specific requirements for the vehicle sector. There are also no defined minimum requirements for IT security. In the future, such requirements will be set out in type registration and operating license regulations.

Intelligent components and their advantages

In the modern truck, many components are integrated with each other and the driver:

Sensors: Approximately 400 sensors (1) are fitted to the modern truck. Among other things, these enable the early detection of obstacles.

Software: 100 million lines of code (1) feature in the software of current networked trucks, and allow for more efficiency when designing logistical processes.

Cloud: 250 meters is the range (2) of a truck’s long-range radar sensors. To extend this horizon even further, data from the Cloud must be used.

Driver: Every 3rd truck (3) is predicted to be at least partly autonomous by 2025. Conversely, the driver could be ever more involved in distribution and management processes.

The full automation of all trucks on the road could bring a great many advantages:

Environment: Up to 60% lower CO2 emissions (3).

Time: Circa 5% time savings (3) through route optimization.

Safety: 76% fewer accidents by 2025 (3) and up to 90% fewer by 2040 (4).

Economy: Up to 100 billion euros in increased profitability (3) per annum globally.

(1) Source: Daimler
(2) Source: Continental
(3) Source: Study “Delivering Change – The Transformation of the Transport Sector by 2025,” McKinsey
(4) Source: Study “Automated Trucks – The next big disrupter in the automotive industry?”, Roland Berger
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