Will self-driving cars be dangerous due to computer hackers?

Not for any one update. But self-drive firmware is certain to be much more complicated, and thus likely to show behavior in service that calls for more frequent fixes.

Computers are already used in critical applications: military equipment, factories, oil refineries, pipelines, power plants, all kinds of vehicles, medical equipment (everything from patient records and prescriptions to diagnosis equipment, treatment devices, even pacemakers and implantable defibrillators), etc. Any of these can kill you if hacked in a certain way, but we’ve mostly learned to manage the risks. I don’t see how self-driving cars would add an appreciable amount of risk to our lives.

My GPS has no ability to actually browse for pornsites, check my emails, etc… it just reads the map.

If there’s a tree on the road and 20 guys with guns show up, I have to stop and get carjacket, with or without selfdriving.

Also, autonomous cars must have and need an option for a driver to take over.

The car doesn’t just drive via GPS, since not all roads are included on a GPS map, like your driveway – the car “reads” the road via a variety array of sensors.

See post #22 for relevant context.

Yes. If the system is compromised, however, that option may not be available.

True, but incidental to the discussion.

I don’t know if regular hackers would do it. I could see various incentives to hack into cars by either criminals, terrorists or governments.

  1. Hack into a luxury car and have it drive itself to a chop shop. That would make car theft insanely easy.

  2. Terrorists (or an enemy government) mass hacks into endless thousands of cars during rush hour, causing massive crashes and pileups causing lots of deaths. Or they just intentionally disable all the cars to cause chaos.

  3. People intentionally crash the cars to kill individual occupants for assassination.

Sure, but cars are, since their invention, stolen, hijacked, damaged, manipulated.

I find this scare about hacking a car completely overrated.

However, I’ve heard about people driving off the road following a GPS device.
Here, some Japanese drives into the Pacific - Here some more

They must have been hacked :smack:

  1. It would also report it’s position routinely, so unless the hack also disabled this functionality, you’d be able to figure out where the chop shop is.

  2. This is why you don’t allow wireless software updates. It should require a device plugged into a port in the car to change anything.

  3. Restriction #2 at least means the bad guys can just kill a few individuals at a time at worst instead of thousands of people. Also, a vehicle like this needs a switch that will disconnect the computer system from the drive train and allow pure manual control.

I can easily think of a couple of ways to get around this. Disabling the position reporting is one way. There other techniques that should work as well, but you’ll forgive me if I don’t elaborate on them.

The “driving to the chop shop” probably doesn’t work. A virus will be sent out to all cars. Any car that doesn’t end up in the chop shop will have the directions for getting to the shop in memory. The authorities download and bust the shop.

The fear of driverless cars is, to me, similar to the fear of nuclear power. Car accidents are one of the leading causes of death in the US and they would largely be stopped by switching to driverless cars even with the occasional hacking. But somehow the devil we know is preferable to the minor imp we don’t know.

I agree. I think it will be technically possible, but I don’t see the motive for it at the moment.

I’m not saying this scheme is likely, but surely if it gets used the car will be instructed to drive not to the shop but to some random location from which it can be disabled (to block further tracking) then transported to the shop.

Wouldn’t matter. Cops would just go to the random location (which they get from one of the hacked cars) and arrest whoever’s there. In addition, this scheme could be foiled by cars with deadbolt switches–the power to the wheels is physically isolated until a passenger turns on a switch–which means a car won’t drive itself without a passenger.

True - the sorts of exploits that we see directed at home computers involve degrees of separation, anonymisation, location-agnosticism, deniability and virtualisation of reward that don’t seem possible when the targeted device is a road vehicle.

I’ve been advocating autonomous cars for years now.

I don’t see hacking as a real threat. Oh, there will be a few occurrences now and then, but they will be rare. My reasons have been better stated by other posters in this thread.

Years ago, this was done in a film - an armored truck carrying a large fortune was sent out without anything to denote it was different than a normal run.

Two heavy trucks managed to get it between them. The first one slammed on the brakes, and the rear slammed into the truck, backed up, slammed again - until the box broke open.

It would have been MUCH easier to have a box with a button that locks up the engine - alongside your bomb.

We already have people driving off roads into whatever is there because their GPS said “turn left” in the middle of nowhere.

The 16-yr old who wants to make a name wil be a problem, as will the hackers at NSA and a hundred other black box operations - gawd help you if they think your car is carrying a “high-value target” - you will be routed away from prying eyes and a drone will dispatch you.

I’ll switch to a motorcycle - I can take one of those apart and rebuild forever before risking a “modern” engine with its trapdoor.
Just as NSA has trapdoors in your hard drive (and I’m typing this on a Dell, which proudly “complies with the laws” - including the secret ones?

And once the switch is thrown?

And you think the bad guys would use their own location for a grab? Drive it up alongside a truck with a guy in back with an heavy machine gun - so much for your armored, bullet-proof limo. Abandon the truck and have the car which comes by the next minute drive you away. The next minute, the truck blows up.
The police can have it.

What do you think the odds are that the Secret Service would ever let one of their wards enter such a vehicle?

There could be many, and they’d likely be places where cops are easy to spot.

If the criminals are driving around brazenly brandishing heavy machine guns you have more problems than hacked cars.

Cops put a tracker device on the car, let it drive to the random location, surround it, and move in. The only way this works is if the robbers can target the trojan to a single car and the car doesn’t have a deadbolt switch. There are easier ways to steal cars.