IoT global round-up: India sets out stall to be world leader in smart cities

7 Apr 2017

A Sikh man in Delhi, India. Image: Dean Maber/Shutterstock

This week in the world of IoT, India’s government set out its stall as a global player in smart cities, while Mercedes promised the launch of autonomous taxis.

Within the world of the internet of things (IoT), London received much of the focus this week for its efforts to autonomise its public transport, with trials for a new bus in the city.

Developed as part of the GATEway Project, the autonomous bus is designed to carry a small number of passengers from areas on the outskirts of the city to major public transport hubs.

As part of its first tests this month, the bus will travel along a 2km route in Canary Wharf, with a supervisor on board to make sure the bus does everything it is supposed to.

The GATEway Project expects to welcome the first paying passengers on board in 2019, with a possibility for expanding to other UK cities.

Meanwhile, within industrial IoT, General Motors (GM) revealed that it was planning to build and connect more of its robotic force online in a bid to ramp up production.

Mark Franks, director of global automation at the company, recently spoke of the 100 potential failures of its assembly robots, which were avoided by GM after analysing data sent to external servers in the cloud.

“If we can avoid a disruption in our manufacturing, we can save ourselves a significant amount of money,” Franks said. “It’s a pretty good payback.”

India to announce 40 new smart city locations

While the plan to build a smart city 10 times the size of Singapore in India never seemed to materialise, the latter’s government is still planning to invest heavily to make its existing cities just as smart.

According to Indian newspaper Financial Express, the country’s urban development ministry announced plans to spend 480bn Indian rupees (approximately €7bn) in 40 cities over the next five years.

As part of this initiative, each of the cities will get 500m rupees (approximately €7m), with the location of these cities to be revealed in June of this year.

A 2015 governmental plan set out to turn 100 of India’s biggest hubs into smart cities, and is now in the midst of compiling data on what projects need to be done.

Mercedes promises self-driving taxis within three years

With Uber currently embroiled in a contentious lawsuit with Google over technology that the latter accuses the former of having stolen, other players in the self-driving taxi game now have a chance to shine.

According to Wired, Daimler – Mercedes-Benz’s parent company – has revealed plans to introduce a self-driving taxi service within the next three years.

As the owners of Mytaxi – which recently completed its brand takeover of Hailo – Daimler would work with its compatriot company Bosch to help with both the software and hardware required to develop an autonomous taxi.

Back in 2015, the company revealed a concept for the world’s first self-driving truck, something that is already beginning to make serious headway on European roads.

It remains vague about a defined release date, as Daimler’s head of autonomous driving, Axel Gern, said: “We’re trying to get the technology on a mature level.”

Bad review? Then no smart garage door for you

In a somewhat worrying case of customer support, the owner of an IoT garage door that can controlled through a smartphone found themselves unable to use it – because they left a bad review with the manufacturer.

According to Ars Technica, the customer bought a unit from the company Garadget and, as they were not fully happy with it, decided to leave some strongly worded reviews on message boards and Amazon.

In retaliation, company founder Denis Grisak said that he was “not going to tolerate any tantrums”.

Grisak offered the customer a refund, but also denied their Garadget device a server connection, meaning it would no longer work.

After Grisak’s actions didn’t go unnoticed, he offered a follow-up response, admitting it was not the “slickest PR move”.

Most smart TVs can be hacked through broadcast signals

Recent events have shown that while smart TVs might increase the amount of content we can consume through one device, its flaws, from a security perspective, leave them wide open to snooping.

According to The Hacker News, a cybersecurity firm called Oneconsult found that the devices are not only vulnerable to hacking online, but over digital broadcasting signals as well.

According to the research led by Rafael Scheel, 85pc of smart TVs on the market have an exploit that would allow a low-cost transmitter to embed malicious code into DVB-T (digital video broadcasting-terrestrial) signals.

The DVB-T attack can infect a smart TV by exploiting two privilege escalation vulnerabilities within the device’s web browsers. Once infected, it would not be fixable with either a total reboot or factory reset.

This is especially dangerous because it does not need to gain physical control of a device and could transmit to a large number of TVs at the same time.

A Sikh man in Delhi, India. Image: Dean Maber/Shutterstock

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Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic