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It’s no surprise that the technology and transportation sections have been merging together over the past decade.

With Ford Motor Company’s latest major $1 billion investment in artificial intelligence company Argo AI and other automotive giants investing in similar efforts, the competition to produce the first fully autonomous cars has begun in earnest.

But with autonomous cars come a rise in other never-before-seen markets, such as new autonomous fleet services, new courier services and an auto cybersecurity market.

We have firewalls and antivirus programs to protect our computers and laptops, but as vehicles incorporate more and more electronic components, we might soon be seeing anti-malware in cars and trucks.

While automakers race to develop the first fully autonomous cars, the evolution of automotive anti-malware is less determined. One thing that’s for certain though, is the need to protect drivers from things typically related to Internet safety like identity theft and privacy breaches.

Last year, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) released guidelines stating that automakers should make cybersecurity a priority. Infact, earlier this year, lawmakers in the United States reintroduced a bill called the Security and Privacy in Your Car (SPY Car) Act in order to address the issue of automotive cybersecurity with all the stakeholders. If passed, the law would require vehicles to have a way to isolate critical systems from the software to protect occupants against any unauthorized activity.

To a degree, the vehicles produced today are semi-autonomous and have the capacity to help out drivers with everyday driving. Systems like forward collision warning, emergency braking and parking assistance for example, keep drivers safe when on the road, but more investment and testing will be necessary for the industry to get to fully self-driving cars.

In fact, some experts argue that there are a lot of pros associated with fully autonomous vehicles in relation to driver convenience and safety.

Autonomous driving eliminates driving under the influence, texting and driving and other serious forms of distracted driving. In theory, having a centralized system for roads will also reduce traffic problems and making commuting by cars even more convenient and better for the environment.

As the auto industry and technology developers continue to collaborate, we can expect to see more new start-up companies focus their attention in creating new technology related to autonomous cars.

Artificial intelligence, 3D mapping, laser-radar sensors and auto anti-malware software are only a few of the items on the list to perfect before our roads can handle self-driving vehicles.

There’s also recent news surrounding augmented reality (where objects down the road like road signs can be projected before they appear) and vehicle-to-vehicle communication (where cars can broadcast their location, speed and direction to other cars). Both of these technologies would also need some sort of auto cybersecurity system and a policy in place to protect drivers’ privacy.

Although not autonomous, today’s cars leave the factory with a plethora of computer systems to help with safety and navigation. To find out more about these systems stop by your nearest new car dealer for a demonstration or a test drive a new vehicle.

Blair Qualey is President and CEO of the New Car Dealers Association of BC. You can email him at [email protected].