Card readers at electric vehicle charging stations will weaken security, researchers say

Electric vehicle charging stations could become one of the next big targets for fraudsters — thanks to proposals in several state that researchers say would weaken their security.

Most electric vehicle (EV) charging stations rely solely on a credit card linked to an app or through contactless payments with RFID-enabled credit cards or through a driver’s smartphone. Contactless payments are one of the most secure ways to pay, cutting out the credit card entirely and reducing the chance that a card will be cloned or have its data skimmed. For charging stations — often in the middle of nowhere and unmonitored — relying on contactless payments can reduce device tampering and credit card fraud.

But several states are proposing EV charging stations install magnetic stripe credit card readers, which the researchers are prone to abuse by fraudsters.

Arizona, California, Nevada, Vermont, and several states across New England are said to be considering installing credit card readers at publicly funded EV charging stations.

“While these proposals may be well-intentioned, they could expose drivers to new security risks while providing cyber criminals with easy access to attractive targets,” wrote security researchers April Wright and Jayson Street, in a paper out Monday by the Digital Citizens Alliance, a nonprofit consumer group.

Instead, they say EV charging stations and other point-of-sale machines should continue to rely on contactless payment methods and lawmakers “should engage with the security community to better understand fraud risks associated with credit card readers.”

“These proposals would effectively reverse the industry’s careful considerations regarding EV charger payment options,” said the researchers.

Much of the issues fall on the continued reliance of magnetic stripe cards, which remains one of the most common payment methods in the U.S.

Where other nations, including the U.K. and most of Europe, have adopted chip-and-PIN as … Read the rest

On the road to self-driving trucks, Starsky Robotics built a traditional trucking business

More than three years ago, self-driving trucks startup Starsky Robotics was founded to solve a fundamental issue with freight — a solution that CEO Stefan Seltz-Axmacher believes hinges on getting the human driver out from behind the wheel.

But a funny thing happened along the way. Starsky Robotics started a regular ol’ trucking company. Now, nearly half of the employees at this self-driving truck startup help run a business that uses the traditional model of employing human drivers to haul loads for customers, TechCrunch has learned.

Starsky’s trucking business, which has been operating in secret for nearly two years alongside the company’s more public pursuit of developing autonomous vehicle technology, has hauled 2,200 loads for customers. The company has 36 regular trucks that only use human drivers to haul freight. It has three autonomous trucks that are driven and supported by a handful of test drivers. Starsky also employs a number of office people who, as Seltz-Axmacher notes, “know how to run trucks.”

The CEO and co-founder contends that without the human-driven trucking piece, Starsky won’t ever have an operational, or profitable, self-driving truck business. The trucking business has generated revenue, led to key partnerships such as Schneider Logistics, Penske and Transport Enterprise Leasing, and importantly, helped build a company that works in the real world. It has also been a critical tool for recruiting and vetting safety drivers and teleoperators (or remote drivers), according to Seltz-Axmacher.

“The decision to have a trucking business interact with the real trucking world in parallel with developing the robotics piece is a necessary part of building a longstanding business in the space,” said Reilly Brennan, general partner at Trucks VC and the first institutional investor in Starsky.

Starksy, which was co-founded by Seltz-Axmacher and Kartik Tiwari, has raised $21.7 million in equity from … Read the rest

GM is opening up Super Cruise hands-free driving system to more roads

GM’s hands-free driver assistance system, Super Cruise, has been lauded for its capabilities. But it’s also been criticized because of its severe limitations. So far, it’s only available in one Cadillac model, the full-size CT6 sedan, and its use is restricted to certain divided highways.

That’s starting to change.

GM’s luxury brand Cadillac said Wednesday that it is expanding Super Cruise through a software update that will add another 70,000 miles of compatible divided highways in the United States and Canada. By the end of the year, Super Cruise will be available on more than 200,000 miles of highways.

The expansion follows other improvements rolled out last year, including adding a dynamic lane offset so that a CT6 with Super Cruise activated can adjust slightly over in its lane for driver comfort when passing large vehicles. Gauge cluster messages were also added, to inform drivers why Super Cruise may not be available in certain instances.

Super Cruise uses a combination of lidar map data, high-precision GPS, cameras and radar sensors, as well as a driver attention system, which monitors the person behind the wheel to ensure they’re paying attention. Unlike Tesla’s Autopilot semi automation driver assistance system, users of Super Cruise do not need to have their hands on the wheel. However, their eyes must remain directed straight ahead.

It’s an important update for GM and the Super Cruise technology. Although GM is taking a cautious-first approach, it still has constraints on the system.

Some of the divided highways added will include limited intersections and traffic-control devices. In the cases of railroad crossings, pedestrian crossings, stoplights or stop signs, Super Cruise will alert drivers to take back control of the vehicle, Cadillac said.

Super Cruise will soon be available to folks beyond owners of the Cadillac CT6. Starting in … Read the rest

Ferrari’s first plug-in hybrid is here — and it’s faster than ever

Ferrari has finally cracked open the door for electrification. The Italian supercar manufacturer unveiled the SF90 Stradale, its first plug-in hybrid.

Purists might turn their noses up to Stradale’s mere 15.5 miles of all electric range. But it’s a milestone for Ferrari nonetheless, and marks a shift in the company’s views and portfolio.

Now, some of the important nuts and bolts. The Stradale has a V8 turbo engine that produces 780 cv (or about 769 horsepower), which the company says is the highest power output of any 8-cylinder Ferraris in its history. Another 216 hp is produced by three electric motors. The motors are located between the engine and 8-speed dual clutch transmission on the rear axle, and two on the front axle.

When combined, the vehicle can travel from 0 to 62 miles per hour in 2.5 seconds.

You can check out the video below to see the supercar in action. Wait — and listen — for the moment when the driver switches to electric power.

The driver can place the Stradale in eDrive mode — Ferrari’s branding for all-electric mode. When the internal combustion engine is turned off, the two independent front motors can deliver a maximum speed of about 83 mph. That’s slow compared to the car’s top speed of 211 mph, which is achieved when the combustion engine is activated. Reverse only uses eDrive mode.

The default setting for the Stradale is to run as a hybrid. The vehicle also has a performance setting, a mode that keeps the internal gas engine running because the priority … Read the rest

The all-electric Honda e is bringing its side view mirrors inside

Honda e, the compact electric vehicle that’s coming to market in spring 2020, is bringing its side-view mirrors inside. The company confirmed Tuesday that its side-camera-mirror system, which was on the prototype version, will be a standard feature when the car enters production. 

The side-camera-mirror system includes two six-inch screens, situated on the left and right sides of the dashboard, that provide live images of traffic. Honda argues that the tech reduces aerodynamic drag by 90% compared to conventional door mirrors, for an overall 3.8% improvement for the entire vehicle. This, in turn, can help with the battery’s efficiency and range.

The mirrors also improve visibility, Honda says, adding that the camera unit housings are shaped to prevent water drops on the lens. The lens also has a water-repellent coating to prevent residual water build up.

You can check out how it works in the video below.

The driver can choose two views, normal and wide, via the vehicle settings. The two views extend the field of vision and helps reduce blind spots by about 10% in normal and about 50% when using the wide option, Honda claims.

If the driver puts the vehicle in reverse, guidelines appear on the side-view screens. As lighting conditions change, the brightness levels on the interior displays adjust.

Honda also confirmed that the pop-out door handles will be in the production version.

The automaker has big plans for the Urban EV, officially named the Honda e, and more broadly electric vehicles. The Honda e is expected to have a battery range of more than 124 miles and come equipped with a “fast charge” capability that will provide a 80% change in 30 minutes.

Way back in 2017, Honda Motor Co. president and CEO Takahiro Hachigo emphasized that the Urban EV wasn’t some “vision … Read the rest