A recent article from Fortune (3/2/16, Vanian) expresses concern around what many believe is the major issue of future cars – hacking. While many may think that we are still more than a decade away from our next leap toward a Jetsons lifestyle, you may be surprised to hear that experts believe self-driving cars will be mainstream just five years from now. Not just on the market – mainstream.
With that in mind, the cause for concern is largely justified. Research experiments have proven that driverless cars are susceptible to hacking before, and not much has been released to indicate that these concerns have been squashed. Our new world – one driven by technology – has already experienced several large-scale hackings, with private information typically at the center of the attack. Now we’re talking about hacks that could compromise the physical safety of owners and passengers of self-driving cars.
“With more cars now loaded with wireless Internet connections, hackers have more ways to break into car technology than ever before.”
That’s a quote from a recent report released by Kelley Blue Book.
Another topic that the Fortune article touches on is the debated issue of liability. Who would actually be considered at-fault in the case of a collision? Would it be the owner or the manufacturer of the driverless car? These are major legal questions that could impact the ability to recover appropriate compensation for injuries and deaths related to a collision.
To boot, questions are flowing in about insurance. Would insurance be available for the case of car hacking? If so, who would offer it? Insurance companies? The manufacturer?
Others are concerned about the safety of a computer’s ability to make driving decisions. In the recent spotlight is the Google self-driving car that hit a bus. According to an article by Engadget (2/29/16, Fingas), sand bags in the road caused the self-driving vehicle to switch into the center lane in order to make a right turn. A bus was approaching from behind, and the self-driving vehicle assumed that the bus would slow down or come to a stop, so that it could get through. These assumptions were incorrect, and the self-driving car collided with the side of the bus.
Is it possible for a computer to anticipate all possible hazards on the road? Apparently, we’ll find out sooner than we thought.
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