Self-driving cars could be ‘weaponised’

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Self-driving cars could be ‘weaponised’

Autonomous vehicles could be weaponised

The tech giant has warned global car manufacturers the vital need to address security concerns over autonomous vehicles.

It has been identified that Autonomous vehicles have can have security vulnerabilities and are in danger of being hacked by terrorists and turned into “weapons”.

This is leading governments around the world to block cars operated by foreign companies. The warning has been also issued by the head of Baidu’s self-driving car programme.

Qi Lu, who is the chief operating officer at the Chinese internet group, said security concerns could become a problem for global carmakers and technology companies, including the US and China. Talking on the sidelines at the Consumer Electronics Show last week, he said:

“It has nothing to do with any particular government - it has to do with the very nature of autonomy,”

“You have an object that is capable of moving by itself. By definition, it is a weapon.”

At the moment, self-driving technology is advancing more rapidly than regulators can keep up with. With the arrival of these new disruptive technologies, governments around the world are grappling with the real issues of when to allow autonomous cars on to their roads and under what conditions.

Car manufacturers and tech companies will have a “high bar” to meet local policy requirements for autonomous driving, Mr Lu said.

“The days of building a vehicle in one place and it runs everywhere are over. Because a vehicle that can move by itself by definition it is a weapon.”

We would doubt that by definition it is a weapon but we know what Lu is trying to get at here.

Baidu is investing heavily in open-source autonomous car software called Apollo. The company is looking to diversify away from its core business of internet advertising into artificial intelligence.

At CES 2018 (Consumer Electronics Show), the open source creators unveiled Apollo 2.0, which offers improved security, alongside a new $200m fund to invest in south-east Asian efforts to improve autonomous driving.

Apollo has already entered into partnership agreements with US chip companies such as Intel and Nvidia, as well as American and European carmakers Ford and Daimler. In China, it is working with local auto manufacturers JAC and BAIC, who plan to start producing autonomous vehicles based on Apollo software as soon as next year.

Mr Qi Lu joined Baidu from Microsoft over a year ago, said autonomous vehicles should reduce fatalities on the road, whether caused accidentally or intentionally as an act of terrorism.

“In the future, these cars won’t move if they see a human in front of them- it doesn’t matter who controls the car.”

Mr Lu pointed out that there are “overwhelming benefits” of autonomous driving there will have to be a “lot of dialogue” between companies, regulators and politicians for these new technologies. “How we ensure safety, in my view, is going to be a journey,” he said.

“Apollo is created by Baidu but not owned by Baidu,” he said. “We fundamentally believe that an open system that cultivates an environment where the best of breed can participate is better than one single company that does it alone.”


Justin Kavanagh
Justin Kavanagh is a recognised leader in automotive intelligence and vehicle data supply to the entire motor industry. He has almost 20 years experience in building systems from the ground up. As the Managing Director of Vehicle Management System, he understands the need and importance of trustworthy and reliable vehicle history and advice to both the trade and the public.
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