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Driverless Cars Could Be Easily Tricked

By Brian Chase on August 21, 2017 - No comments

Driverless Cars Could Be Easily Tricked image courtesy of

Driverless Cars Could Be Easily Tricked

A simple new experiment has shown that it’s not too hard to confuse or trick driverless vehicles. According to a worrying study conducted by researchers at the University of Washington, driverless cars can be easily confused into misreading road signs that would seem pretty normal to human drivers. For example, placing stickers or posters over part of a sign could be used to trick these autonomous cars into ignoring a stop sign or suddenly braking in the middle of the road.

Causes for Serious Concern

What’s worse? Driverless cars could be tricked into accidents using simple sticker graffiti on road signs, researchers have found. In one of those experiments, graffiti stickers that read “love/hate” were added to a stop sign, which caused a driverless car to misread it as a 45 mph speed limit sign. In another example, the researchers printed a right-hand turn sign that looks exactly the same as the real one that could be stuck over the existing sign. Subtle color changes caused the sign to be misread by the self-driving car’s visual software as a stop sign.

Researchers say that the changes that trick an AI’s learning algorithms could cause them “to misbehave” in unexpected and potentially dangerous ways. Here’s something even more frightening. If hackers are able to access the algorithm, they could use an image of the road sign to crease a customized version of the sign capable of confusing the car’s camera. Simple hacks could cause driverless cars to run through stop signs or come to a sudden halt in the middle of the street. The people who conducted this deeply concerning study are saying they hope this research will help manufacturers of autonomous cars build better defense systems into their vehicles.

The Need for More Vetting

Driverless cars and even large trucks are going to run on our roadways in the near future. It’s not a matter of if, but when. While manufacturers are conjuring images of safer streets because driverless cars don’t “drive drunk or distracted,” there are still several concerns about whether these technologies are quite road-ready.

This recent study and other incidents involving driverless vehicles tells us that these cars aren’t ready for primetime just yet. There are not just road safety issues, but also cyber security concerns that need to be addressed before these vehicles can be put on our roads. As California car accident lawyers who represent the rights of injured victims and their families, we find it unacceptable to use human beings as guinea pigs to test out this new technology.

Posted in: Car Accidents

About the Author: Brian Chase

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