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Google Self Drive Car at Risk from Hackers

Google Self Drive CarsThe technological innovation now associated with Google, the internet search engine, has gone far beyond just being synonymous with simply ‘Googling it’.

You’ve seen the phenomenon that is Google Street View - arguably one of the most simply ingenious feats the internet has seen, making it now possible to ‘walk’ down thousands of streets in Europe, America and most of Australia. As little as 10 years ago, the concept of finding your own house - and even potentially your own car - immortalized in a sort of global public time capsule might have been laughed at. But it’s developing every day and more and more of our planet is becoming available to explore at the touch of a button. Then there are Google Glasses - the ability to see ‘through the eyes of others’, capturing moving images to a whole new level. Gone are the days when Google was used as a shortcut for typing in your favourite website’s URL.

The next stage; self-driving cars. According to recent press, autonomous vehicles are inevitable and Google have announced that its initial experiments have seen their testers drive over 700,000 miles and watch out for hazards and traffic as well as a human can. However there is talk that these self-drive motors (the prototypes of which have no steering wheel or pedals) are at risk from cyber attack and pose new risks, such as ‘spam jams’. They are the first company to build a car of this type. The car is controlled by a smartphone, on which the destination and pick-up points are set and is powered by an electric motor with a 100 mile range and a limit of 25 miles per hour.

The worry is that if these Google cars are run on internet technology which criminals with the know-how can infiltrate, cars that can’t be controlled by humans are susceptible to ‘cyber manipulation’ that passengers can do nothing about. Cyber security firm KPMG is asking for manufacturers to put together pre-emptive safety features to tackle the possible problems before they surface. Possible problems and concerns could include:

  • Hackers manipulating or even hi-jacking the journey path
  • Collisions with other autonomous or ‘normal’ vehicles
  • Lack of control - there is no user interaction, save an emergency stop button
  • The use of a GPS is not always fail-proof and there is a fear of ‘taking a wrong turn’
  • The car is slow and likely to be overly cautious, which could cause problems for other road users

There’s no saying where these self-drive cars will take us beyond what is inputted into the smartphone. However, even though Google stipulate that these kind of cars won’t replace personal cars but rather be more taxi-like, many commentators believe that it is only a matter of decades until the need to change gears and make simple decisions while driving is no longer there.

Motoring News  22/07/2014 16:37:15

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