The last few years have been fascinating for those of us who have been eagerly observing the steady move towards autonomous driving. However, the latest technological advances found some major flaws after several months of study and research.
The future of driving is not driving, at least that’s what companies like Tesla think. Elon Musk’s electric car company has focused on aggressively deploying self-driving technology in its cars, but as we’ve seen before, Autopilot isn’t perfect.
The technological downturn? Hackers were able to trick Tesla cars into autonomously speeding just by sticking two inches of tape on a speed limit sign.
Researchers at McAfee, a computer security solutions provider, have discovered potential vulnerabilities in driver assistance systems for electric vehicle maker Tesla. They stuck Tesla cars to speeding in the speed limit zone by pasting electrical tape on the speed limit signs.
Researchers were able to trick a 2016 Tesla Model X and Model S into accelerating 50 mph by slightly manipulating a speed limit sign. The small piece of tape was placed on a 35 mph sign to extend the middle line of the “3.” This was enough to fool the camera systems into thinking it was an “8,” as both vehicles sped up to 85 mph while using the “cruise control” feature.
The Tesla flaw resulted in 110 crashes and 52 injuries. Many drivers who spend lots of money on getting the Tesla found themselves thrust into dangerous situations because the engineers at the car company did not do their due diligence to make sure drivers would be safe when relying on the cruise control situation.
McAfee’s situation proves that if someone intentionally changes the speed limit with electrical tape, which could be dangerous for someone behind the wheel of the car even if the vehicle is not operated by a computer.
Tesla, however, does not feel that McAfee’s research is valid because it was an intentional way to trick the computer camera.
A spokesperson said this trick could also fool the human eye. Take a look at the photo above and imagine how quickly you look at a speed limit sign. That’s probably fair.
The researchers commended MobilEye for apparent changes to its cameras and for looking to research to inform their product performance. They did note, however, that the camera that misclassified the speed limit is still present in a significant percentage of deployed Teslas.
And while drivers are expected to still be alert behind the wheel of any semi-autonomous vehicle, history has shown that is not always the case.
Watch the research made by McAfee here: McAfee/Youtube