Self-driving vehicles will remain a technological curiosity unless consumers can be convinced they're safe from hackers as well as simply safe on the road.

Real-world testing and ongoing pilot schemes will eventually ensure that a car equipped with an array of sensors and other devices really can be trusted when it comes to the act of driving -- but what about cyber security? How can we be sure that our autonomous cars won't be hacked and our data stolen, or worse still have their controls taken over by cyber criminals and used for evil?

After all, a number of high-profile demonstrations have already highlighted a host of cyber-shortcomings in current-generation connected cars. And, by 2020, it's conservatively estimated that there will be 250 million connected cars on the world's roads.

This is where the Future of Automotive Security Research (FASTR) comes in. A non-profit consortium created by Intel and Uber among others that wants to get everyone involved in creating the next generation of cars to help develop and follow the same cybersecurity protections and guidelines.

"The connected and autonomous car of the future offers revolutionary benefits: dramatic reduction in accidents, alleviation of city congestion, mobility for all and more. All of the benefits will rely on non-negotiable automotive security," said Steve Grobman, FASTR board president and Intel Security Group chief technology officer.

FASTR has published a manifesto which should be seen as a call to action and an invitation to all to combine their expertise and offer open-source, neutral solutions to what is going to be a growing threat.

"FASTR creates an environment that fosters collaboration and data exchange among the public and private sectors to drive toward a unified and global response to cyber hacks through the development of industry best practices, model response systems, protocols, vendor-neutral inputs to emerging standards and R&D resources," said Ami Dotan, Karamba Security CEO and FASTR member.