Tech takes over driver's wheel, remote controls engine, steering... Recall: wireless connection to turn off a Jeep as it drives
*update 11 Aug 2015*
money.cnn - It's a relatively simple hack. And while researchers only tested one type of device, it raises serious questions about how dangerous it is to use them at all - Cars can be hacked by their tiny, plug-in insurance discount trackers The latest way to remotely hack a car? By tapping into one of those plug-in tracking devices from insurance companies. In some cases, hackers can send a text message -- and disable a car's brakes, according to research presented by computer security experts on Monday. It's a relatively simple hack. And while researchers only tested one type of device, it raises serious questions about how dangerous it is to use them at all.
Almost every car on the road right now has a computer port inside, usually underneath the steering wheel. It accesses the computer networks in your car, so mechanics can identify problems. That information is valuable. It can tell how and when you accelerate, brake or steer. That's why insurance companies now give their customers tiny tracking devices to plug into that port -- and offer discounts if you use them. These device connects to the same cellular network as our mobile phones, so it can receive text messages. Student engineers from the University of California, San Diego examined one from Mobile Devices used by auto insurer Metromile. They discovered they could send it specially-coded text messages and remotely engage a car's brakes or disable them completely.
After a Jeep was remotely hacked, Fiat Chrysler will recall 1.4 million vehicles in the US to install software to prevent hackers from gaining remote control of the engine, steering and other systems in what federal officials said was the first such action of its kind. The announcement on Friday by FCA US LLC, formerly Chrysler Group LLC, was made days after reports that cybersecurity researchers used a wireless connection to turn off a Jeep Cherokee's engine as it drove, increasing concerns about the safety of Internet-enabled vehicles.
The researchers used Fiat Chrysler's (FCAU.N) (FCHA.MI) telematics system to break into a volunteer's Cherokee being driven on the highway and issue commands to the engine, steering and brakes.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said on Friday it would investigate whether FCA's solution to upgrade software was enough to protect consumers from hackers, although FCA said in its recall announcement that it was unaware of any injuries.
A spokesman for NHTSA said that it was the first recall of vehicles because of concerns about cybersecurity, and experts said they hoped it would send a shock through the auto industry and beyond it.
wsj.com July 24, 2015 - Should a driverless car swerve to save a kid at the risk of killing the elderly couple? Can We Create an Ethical Robot?
Without our social sense, an android will buy that last muffin, and a driverless car might run over a child. As you try to imagine yourself cruising along in the self-driving car of the future, you may think first of the technical challenges: how an automated vehicle could deal with construction, bad weather or a deer in the headlights. But the more difficult challenges may have to do with ethics. Should your car swerve to save the life of the child who just chased his ball into the street at the risk of killing the elderly couple driving the other way? Should this calculus be different when it’s your own life that’s at risk or the...
First look at the UK's new driverless cars - The LUTZ Pathfinder pod will be the first autonomous vehicle in the UK to work in public areas.
thenextweb.com 2015/07/20 - UK driverless car testing rules: Don’t use your phone, even if you’re not in the car
With the UK, US and other countries focused on advancing the arrival of driverless cars, changes to the rules that govern vehicles on roads were to be expected.
Today, the Department for Transport (DfT) laid down guidelines for testing autonomous (or semi-autonomous) cars on Britain’s roads. As you might expect, many of them are pretty standard fare that would apply to regular cars – like needing to be insured and have a valid road worthiness certificate (MOT) if over three years old. The cars and drivers need to meet existing UK traffic laws, too.
However, the rules also say that operators/testers of driverless cars working remotely (as well as people who are present in ‘highly assisted vehicles’) aren’t allowed to drink alcohol, take drugs, use their phone, or do anything else that you wouldn’t be allowed to do while driving a regular vehicle.
Test drivers and operators are also instructed to maintain the regular appearance of someone driving a car – like looking in the correct direction when at junctions, for example, to not confuse other motorists.
Interestingly, autonomous vehicles will also have to be fitted with a ‘black box’ type recording device capable of “capturing data from the sensor and control systems associated with the automated features as well as other information concerning the vehicle’s movement,” the DfT says.
This will have to record (at a minimum) whether the vehicle was in automatic or manual driving mode, how fast it is going, steering and braking command activation, among other things. It’ll also have to record data about the presence of other road users and vehicles. With guidelines now officially in place for the UK’s roads, it probably won’t be too long until we move from testing driverless pods on pathways onto public roads in different cities.
A trial run of 40 LUTZ Pathfinder driverless pods will take to the streets paths of Milton Keynes in the UK later this year, according to the ‘UK’s innovation center for Intelligent Mobility,’ better known (perhaps) as the Transport Systems Catapult.
The first of the pods will be unveiled at a government launch event in London today, and when they arrive will be the first self-driving vehicles to work on public footpaths. Each pod can carry two passengers and will come equipped with routing and sensor technology from the University of Oxford’s Mobile Robotics Group. The info panel for a driverless pod showing the speed, proximity sensors, remaining charge and power consumption.
The test will be carried out in what is being called an “urban laboratory” on a route around Milton Keynes agreed by the local council, and the fleet of 40 will be “gradually introduced following a series of tests in a safe, controlled environment.” Of course, with LUTZ Pathfinders on the sidewalk and driverless cars taking to UK roads, some people could be worried about the safety implications of autonomous vehicles. Neil Fulton, program director at the Transport Systems Catapult, said that safety features like pedestrian protection, low vehicle speed and 19 electronic sensors/cameras all contribute to the overall safety for testing. There’s also an emergency stop button, which is good to know.
This could be the beginning of the end for the car-insurance business
In 25 years, technological advances may render car ownership as we know it obsolete. The car-insurance industry may be buried right beside it.
Self-driving cars and ride-sharing programs will completely disrupt the car-insurance industry, said Deutsche Bank on Monday in a note about auto insurer Progressive. The analysts downgraded Progressive, citing underlying fundamentals for the company in its current form but also raising the possibility that the new technology will make its primary business outdated. The note said:
"We believe the concurrent rise of instant ridesharing and autonomous vehicles presents real questions as to whether there will even be an auto insurance industry as we know it in 20 years, what percentage of cars on the road will be essentially accident-free in 10 years and whether to acknowledge in just 5 years that this isn't some 'George Jetson' fantasy."
The note highlighted three key changes coming with the new technology:
"Accident frequency will decline to where the difference among driving behaviors becomes negligible and it is difficult to charge a meaningful premium for insurance."
"Insurance will take the form of commercial product liability instead of personal driver liability as we let the robots do the driving."
"Vehicle utilization will rise and cars on the road will decline as one car can serve the driving needs of multiple travelers per day, which, in-turn, means fewer cars."
Basically, the insurance on a car would transfer from people owning and driving cars to a less-lucrative system where self-driving and ride-sharing companies insure cars like any other product. Deutsche Bank said that Progressive is particularly exposed to these changes as many of their policyholders are young people are more likely to adopt new technologies. While the note says that the auto-insurance companies could adapt to these changes, there is a possibility that firms such as Progressive won't exist in this brave new world of transportation. Said the report: "Progressive may find its way to dominating this new kind of auto insurance world, but it also may find its products completely unnecessary in 2030."
ABC.net.au July 21, 2015 - The first on-road trials of driverless cars in the Southern Hemisphere will take place in Adelaide's southern suburbs in November
Volvo will conduct the testing in conjunction with Flinders University, Carnegie Mellon University, the RAA and Cohda Wireless and Bosch, which has engineers in Australia developing driverless technology.
The trials will take place on the Southern Expressway on November 7 and 8, with multiple vehicles conducting manoeuvres such as overtaking, lane changing, emergency braking and the use of on and off ramps. For the trials, Volvo will bring the same vehicle from Sweden that is being used in their Drive Me project, a program that aims to put self-driving cars into the hands of customers by 2017.
The trials will also involve technology from Telstra and Bosch. Independent road research agency, ARRB (Australian Road Research Board) Group, said the trials would establish how the technology would be developed for the Australian market. ARRB group managing director Gerard Waldron said automated vehicles were far from science fiction.
Image courtesy Reuters / James Fassinger, WSJ, thenextweb.com, and Bosch
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