Possible Security Risks Involved With Driverless Cars

In 2004, the Will Smith feature film, “I, Robot” hit the movie theaters as a futuristic sci-fi thriller box office hit. Set in the year 2035, the movie featured mass produced robots and vehicles that drove themselves without any human interaction. Bypassing the need for a driver, Will Smith’s character could read magazines and do everything else while his vehicle drove him to his destinations. While the driverless cars in “I, Robot” were products of Hollywood, automakers are looking to bring driverless or autonomous vehicles to the world’s highways very soon.

Driverless Vehicle?
Currently, several of the major automakers are involved in the creation of a driverless car. While Google’s autonomic Toyota Prius sets the bar for other automakers, Cadillac, BMW, Audi, Volvo, and Ford Motor Co. are also looking to embark on this driverless journey. Currently, Google has tested their prototype and amassed over 300,000 miles on mountain roads, busy highways, and city streets at various times of day. The obvious goal was to test the prototype in every possible scenario, which has no reported problems so far.

How Will Driverless Cars Work?
Up until now, automakers have teased the public with vehicles that park itself, dynamic radar cruise control, and technologies like lane keep assist. While all of these technologies hinted at an autonomous vehicle, it wasn’t until Google stepped forward with its Toyota Prius prototype that other automakers began to scramble for their own version. The following information highlights the most important technologies that are instrumental in making the vehicle operate single-handedly.

  • The vehicle operates based on the internal GPS system and through extremely precise maps.
  • The vehicle’s LIDAR sensing technologies uses visible, ultraviolet or near infrared lights to examine anything and everything in its surroundings.
  • The vehicle has four sensors on its rear and front bumpers that inspects the surroundings and calculate various decisions that are based on the vehicles surroundings.
  • The vehicle’s “laser range finder” is located on the roof and generates a 3D map of the setting.
  • The vehicle also includes a wheel encoder and inertial measurement unit that use precise calculations to assist the vehicle in making decisions. With these calculations, the vehicle is allegedly able to make superior decisions by detecting traffic lights, passengers, other vehicles, and responding at a much faster rate than a human possibly could. .
  • When there are two autonomous vehicles on the road, the vehicles are able to communicate through a system that enables both vehicles to share information and change each vehicle’s actions to avoid collisions.
  • The vehicles do not rely on the infrastructure of the road because of the vehicle’s built-in cameras and sensors.

Anyone can recognize the inherent benefits of having a driverless car. While there are several benefits, there are also countless security concerns that are being discussed by lawmakers and online criminal justice degree programs alike. The following information highlights a few of the top security concerns associated with autonomous vehicles.

One of the main concerns surrounding a driverless vehicle is the one regarding who will be liable in the case of an accident. Since the owner isn’t operating the vehicle, it would seem that any type of accident would point to the manufacturer.

Legal Issues
Legislation requires that a human being be in control of their vehicle at all times. Since the law hasn’t caught up with the fast pace of technological advancements, this conversation will require time and several debates.

Law Enforcement

Proposals from the National Transportation Safety Board include every car having a “black box” data recorder similar to those used in airplanes. All data would be collected and stored on any mishap or crash. Most new cars already record such data, which can be shared with third parties, including insurance companies and law enforcement.
Passenger Safety
As safe as these vehicles are designed to be, the passenger has to be concerned with the impending threat. When someone buys the autonomous vehicle they will have to make a decision to trust the calculated response of artificial intelligence. Just as anyone knows from operating a computer, it doesn’t run as it should. The issues of hack ability, viruses and malware pose an even greater threat to the safety of the passenger. Simply put, traffic control systems and airplanes fail with staggering fatalities due to the same issues.

Privacy Issues
In lieu of the Edward Snowden NSA spy leak, there are several privacy issues surrounding the vehicle. Since the vehicle is controlled by several sensors, the vehicle will generate a staggering amount of data. This data must be regulated, controlled, anonymized, and encrypted to ensure the privacy of the customer.

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