You can create chaos for a self-driving car for only $60

you can create chaos for a self driving car only 60 automated ford fusion hybrid research vehicle
We already know that track stands confuse autonomous cars, but now, we’re being given more reasons to put quotations around the term “smart car.” According to Jonathan Petit, the principal scientist at software company Security Innovation, a well-intentioned safety feature in self-driving cars can become their Achilles heel when faced with malintentioned hackers armed with nothing more than low cost laser and a Raspberry Pi. By combining a laser with a pulse generator (easily produced by a cheap computer), Petit claims that he is able to create phantom objects, like pedestrians, other cars, or just general obstacles in the road that could either slow down or entirely paralyze a car trying to avoid hitting objects in its path. And the total cost of this potentially dangerous prank? Just $60.

An example of a LiDar sensor by Velodyne
An example of a LiDar sensor by Velodyne

“I can take echoes of a fake car and put them at any location I want,” Petit told IEEE. “And I can do the same with a pedestrian or a wall.” This means that an autonomous vehicle could be tricked into thinking that there’s something in its path to be avoided, or worse yet, inundated by so many signals from all different directions that it is forced into a perplexed standstill. Petit continued, “I can spoof thousands of objects and basically carry out a denial of service attack on the tracking system so it’s not able to track real objects.”

Petit’s findings, which are due to be presented in November at the Black Hat Europe security conference, focus on sensors as the most vulnerable parts of these self-driving vehicles. “This is a key point, where the input starts,” he said. “If a self-driving car has poor inputs, it will make poor driving decisions.”

In conducting his experiment, Petit first recorded the unencoded, unencrypted pulses from a commercial IBEO Lux lidar unit, a sensor system that combines light and radar and serves as the “eyes” of many autonomous cars. He and then simply replayed them, creating the illusion of a vehicle, a person, or something else entirely. “The only tricky part was to be synchronized, to fire the signal back at the lidar at the right time,” he told IEEE. Bu afterwards, everything was easy, as “the lidar thought that there was clearly an object there.”

More concerning still is the range from which Petit’s attacks could theoretically work — up to 100 meters and from effectively any direction. While Petit has only tested his laser powered car disabling setup on one lidar model, this certainly seems like a gaping security hole that should be addressed sooner rather than later. Still, Petit says, “The point of my work is not to say that IBEO has a poor product. I don’t think any of the lidar manufacturers have thought about this or tried this.”

Ultimately, Petit hopes that his work will inspire not only cause for concern, but necessary improvements that will make self-driving cars safer as they begin to enter the roadways. “There are ways to solve it,” he said optimistically. “A strong system that does misbehavior detection could cross-check with other data and filter out those that aren’t plausible. But I don’t think carmakers have done it yet. This might be a good wake-up call for them.”

Home Theater

Spotify adds simplified Car View mode for Android users

What was once just a test is now a reality: Spotify is rolling out a new, simplified in-car user interface for all Android users called Car View, which automatically engages when the app detects a car Bluetooth connection.

Muscle cars, trucks, and EVs roared into the subdued 2019 Detroit Auto Show

The 2019 Detroit Auto Show was the quietest edition of the event in recent memory, but that doesn't mean nothing significant happened inside the Cobo Center. Here are the new cars and concepts we saw at the show.

Nissan IMs concept teases a future long-range, autonomous electric car

Debuting at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the Nissan IMs is an electric car with a 380-mile range, autonomous-driving capability, and a backseat designed for being chauffeured. Too bad it's just a concept car.

Self-driving, electric, and connected, the cars of CES 2019 hint at the future

Car companies remained surprisingly quiet during CES 2018. But they spoke up in 2019. From electric hatchbacks you can buy in 2019 to super-futuristic mood-detecting technology, here are the major announcements we covered during the event.

Hyundai’s Veloster N hot hatchback will prove its mettle on the track

The Hyundai Veloster N will go racing to prove the credibility of Hyundai's new N performance division. Unveiled at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the Veloster N race car will compete in a class with other small cars.

The 2020 Lexus RC F goes on a diet to run faster and hit harder

The Lexus RC F has been one of the heavier cars in its competitive set since its introduction. The Japanese firm's engineers set out to shed weight as they gave the model a mid-cycle update.

Lexus LC convertible concept teases a new open-air flagship

Debuting at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the Lexus LC convertible concept adds open-air motoring to the sleek LC's resume. But Lexus won't commit to a production version of the car just yet.

Fast and Furious fans get revved up: Toyota’s Supra sports car is back

The 2020 Toyota Supra made its long-awaited debut at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The resurrected sports car, famous for a role in The Fast and the Furious, goes on sale in the U.S. this summer.

Big tech, bigger grille: BMW updates its 7 Series flagship for 2020

The BMW 7 Series will enter the 2020 model year with a host of updates inside, outside, and under the sheet metal. The new-look nose with a jumbo grille hides updated engines, while passengers benefit from smart tech features.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.

In McLaren’s 600LT Spider, the engine is the only sound system you’ll need

The McLaren 600LT Spider is the inevitable convertible version of the 600LT coupe, itself a lighter, more powerful version of the McLaren 570S. The 600LT Spider boasts a 592-horsepower, twin-turbo V8, and a loud exhaust system to hear it…

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.

Ford has a plan to future-proof the hot-selling F-150 pickup truck

Worried about the threat of rising gas prices, Ford will add the F-150 to its growing portfolio of electrified vehicles. It is currently developing a hybrid F-150, and it will release an electric version of the next-generation truck.

Ford’s Mustang-inspired electric crossover will spawn a Lincoln luxury version

Lincoln will get its own version of parent Ford's first mass-market, long-range electric vehicle. While Ford's version will have styling inspired by the Mustang, Lincoln will take a more traditional approach.