Laser Pointer Hack Easily Dupes Driverlass Car

Recently a man by the name of Jonathan Petit and a few of his colleagues discovered a way to build a $60 device that can deceive the Lidar system sensors in autonomous vehicles into believing there is an obstacle in the way when there isn’t any. This does not only effect completely driverless cars, any cars that have been released that use this system can be affected. The initial disruption from this wouldn’t cause the car to crash or anything, but there are problems that can arise from this hack.

The first thing that came to my mind is the use of this to ambush someone while they are out on the road. This also raises concerns for me in the area of national defense, as I believe that there are military vehicles that use Lidar systems. This could put our soldiers in a very precarious position if their caravan was halted or redirected. “A system that’s tricked into believing there’s a blockage in the road could change the car’s plotted course and take an alternate route”, states Peter Suciu in his article. It’s also stated that if systems have too many false positives the system could shut down.

This is worrisome for the future of autonomous cars and semi autonomous cars (very present today). Fixing the security issues in these cars needs to be a top priority in the automotive industry because this is one among many vulnerabilities that are being found. The good news is apparently the government is jumping on board with these efforts, so we can hopefully expect secure vehicles in the next few years. “The recently announced SPY Car Act will help kick-start these efforts”.

Author: Peter Suciu; Sep 08 2015

– Joshua Geise