Cost and reliability used to be the biggest issues related to automotive electronics, but now another is cropping up increasingly in technical discussions: privacy.
In a presentation at Monday's "Electronic Cocoon" technical session exploring safety systems that minimize "impending collisions," Christopher Wilson of DaimlerChrysler Corp. pointed out that satellite navigation systems will soon be so accurate that they will be able to track vehicle position within a few centimeters.
This accuracy - coupled with the concept of trading data on road conditions with other cars traveling a similar route - could provide a new type of collision-avoidance technology: a system that could notify you when a particularly slippery curve lies ahead, or warn you when fatigue is causing you to straddle lanes.
However, such a navigation/surveillance system potentially "would know where you slept last night," Mr. Wilson says, acknowledging that it could raise some privacy issues with some consumers. Some members of the audience also raised concerns about privacy, wondering out loud if such information could prove irresistible to law enforcement agencies, and, in turn, cause consumers to not want the technology.
Mr. Wilson suggests the best strategy might be to pass a law that telematics-generated information could only be used for safety systems, not law enforcement.