Challenges with Android in the car
In 2012, for the first time in its 26-year history, the J.D. Power Auto Quality Study found that the embedded system is now the biggest source of problems in new cars. Therefore, OEMs are justifiably concerned with the reliability, stability, and security of Android.
Android’s extremely large source code base coupled with its open source development model results in extreme churn – literally thousands of edits per day across Android and its underlying Linux kernel. This guarantees a steady flow of vulnerabilities. A quick search of the U.S. CERT National Vulnerability Database turns up numerous vulnerabilities of varying severity for in-vehicle infotainment systems. Here is a sampling of the worst offenders:
We point these particular vulnerabilities out because they fall into the highest severity category of remote exploitability. They are used by hackers to root Android phones and tablets, and automotive manufacturers want to ensure that the same vulnerabilities do not threaten Android- or Linux-based infotainment systems.
Another concern with Android is driver/passenger safety. Automotive electronics architecture is in the midst of a major trend reversal: Instead of adding more and more processors for new functions, disparate functions are being consolidated into a smaller number of high-performance multicore processors in order to reduce size, weight, power, and component/wiring cost. Processor consolidation is leading safety-critical systems to be integrated with infotainment. The consolidation trend is aided by next-generation, performance-efficient multicore processor platforms, such as the “Jacinto” and OMAPprocessor families including TI’s OMAP 5 platform, which offers a dual-core, power-efficient ARM Cortex-A15 processing architecture.
Additionally, such mixed-criticality system consolidation, for example, includes OEMs looking to host real-time clusters, rear-view cameras, and Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) within the center stack computer. Next-generation Android infotainment systems must ensure that applications and multimedia seamlessly interact with safety functions, and pose no risks to passengers.