Jonathan Petit, the principal scientist at Security Innovation, has managed to disrupt the awareness programming in self-driving cars with a simple laser pen and pulse generator. The equipment is easily obtainable and requires a low-cost computer such as the Raspberry PI. Once combined with a laser pen, you can trick the car’s sensors into thinking there is a “ghostlike” object ahead which causes the vehicle to slow down. Mr Petit told tech magazine IEEE Spectrum that a vehicle could come to a complete halt if enough objects were detected.
“I can spoof thousands of objects and basically carry out a denial of service attack on the tracking system so it’s not able to track real objects,”
“I can take echoes of a fake car and put them at any location I want,”
This is a rather worrying revelation and raises questions about the safety of autonomous cars. Despite the huge investment into the driver-less technology, it seems bizarre that a $40 kit has the potential to create major incidents. Thankfully, Mr Petit and his research team have publicly published a paper on these concerns. As a result, the press coverage surrounding this revelation should help the self-driver car makers to tackle this issue head on and find a unbreakable fix.
Would you feel comfortable in a driver-less car?
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