Autonomous cars could be made to behave unpredictably by simply putting stickers or graffiti on road signs, if new research is correct.
Boffins at the University of Washington carried out some simple tests on an unnamed manufacturer’s autonomous driving software, having previously hacked into it, with results suggesting that even basic changes or additions to signs can make the car completely misinterpret them.
The ultimate point being made by the researchers is that if digital crims gain access to an autonomous car’s brain, and let’s be honest: they can and will, then they can learn how to trick it. In one of the university’s tests they placed ‘love’ and ‘hate’ stickers on a ‘stop’ sign, causing the car to misread it as a 45mph speed limit sign.
Another example saw the black arrow on a ‘turn right’ sign fogged out in a pixelated grey-white. The car saw nothing of the sort, having convinced itself it was looking at a ‘stop’ sign.
Cars are already on the road with technology that can read and respond to road signs, most specifically for speed. If such a car hits the brakes apparently randomly, thinking it has seen a lower speed limit sign and needs to adjust, unsuspecting drivers behind could end up in all sorts of trouble.
While the likes of Elon Musk will likely have a response up their sleeves, the results of this study suggest there’s a long way to go before machines can match the complex reasoning powers of the human brain, even if that brain is disguised as a seat.
Already, Volvo has apparently found it almost impossible to design software to avoid kangaroo collisions in Australia, while according to reports, Waymo has had to develop tiny windscreen wipers to clean bird crap off cameras and sensor arrays that would otherwise go blind…
Via: The Telegraph