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ASIS Foundation unveils AV security report

Alexandria, VA (22 April 2024)— The ASIS Foundation, a company that supports security professionals by offering scholarships and grants, and conducts research to guide the industry on emerging security issues, announces its findings of a comprehensive research endeavor led by esteemed researchers Ishmael Bhila, Peter Lee, and Alison Wakefield, shedding light on the multifaceted landscape of autonomous vehicles (AVs) within security contexts. The report, titled “Autonomous Vehicles: Threats, Risks & Opportunities,” serves as a beacon for security practitioners, offering invaluable insights into the challenges and opportunities presented by the rapid advancement of AV technologies. 

Autonomous vehicles are rapidly proliferating across land, sea, and air domains, revolutionizing various sectors and impacting markets, user behavior, and service attitudes. While uncrewed aerial system (UAS) technologies have matured significantly, there is a surge in investment towards autonomous ground vehicles (AGVs) capable of carrying passengers and cargo. Simultaneously, countries with advanced expertise and infrastructure are actively developing autonomous weapons systems, presenting new challenges and ethical considerations. 

At the heart of the report lies a meticulous examination of the threats, risks, challenges, and opportunities posed by AVs within security operations. From logistical and operational benefits to the technical prowess they offer, AV technologies promise unprecedented advancements. However, they also introduce a plethora of vulnerabilities and implications that demand careful consideration from security practitioners. 

“We’ve witnessed the evolution of autonomous vehicle technology since the 1990s,” said principal researcher Alison Wakefield, Co-Director of the Cybersecurity and Criminology Centre at the University of West London. “The advancements, spanning commercial, military, and security sectors, harbor vast potential alongside numerous risks and challenges they entail. Our report aims to provide security practitioners with valuable insights and recommendations to navigate this complex landscape effectively.” 

The continued advancement of AV technology hinges upon artificial intelligence (AI), which faces intense political, legal, and ethical scrutiny. Governments and international bodies are grappling with regulatory frameworks to balance social, economic, and military benefits against potential risks. However, regulations remain fragmented and evolving, alongside emerging ethical and legal dilemmas. Technical hurdles, coupled with substantial liability costs for system errors, underscore the complex landscape of AV deployment. The report highlights the intricate regulatory landscape surrounding AVs. It emphasizes the need for practitioners to navigate national and international regulations, industry frameworks, and emerging standards effectively.

“Ishmael Bhila, Peter Lee, and Alison Wakefield’s research is a testament to their dedication to understanding the complexities of AV technologies within security applications,” said Martin Gill, Ph.D., Chair, ASIS Foundation. “Their findings offer essential insights for security practitioners navigating the transformative power of AVs while mitigating potential risks effectively..” 

Security practitioners must navigate this intricate environment to effectively harness AV technologies while ensuring responsible and secure utilization. They must comprehend varying regulatory landscapes, public sentiments, and security requirements across jurisdictions. They must also address risks to critical infrastructure from both malicious and unintentional actors. Anticipated trends include heightened security concerns as criminal and terrorist groups adapt commercial AVs. Moreover, challenges are posed by affordable surveillance capabilities, and the interconnectedness of AVs across domains. The report offers practical recommendations for security practitioners to leverage AV technologies effectively while mitigating risks and challenges. The guidance outlined in the report empowers practitioners to embrace AV technologies responsibly. From training and regulation compliance to cybersecurity measures, it covers a range of aspects.

The report emphasizes the pivotal role of organizations like ASIS International. They facilitate collaboration among stakeholders, share expertise, and drive best practices. This harmonizes service provision in alignment with multisectoral needs, national and international guidelines, and public perceptions. Security practitioners must embrace emerging technologies while staying vigilant to security implications to adapt and thrive in this dynamic landscape.

As the security landscape continues to evolve, the insights offered by Bhila, Lee, and Wakefield’s research serve as a compass for navigating the uncharted territory of AV technologies. Their work underscores the importance of staying informed and proactive in harnessing the transformative potential of AVs within security operations. 

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