This $60 Kit Can Disable Self-Driving Cars
Jonathan Petit, the principal scientist at Security Innovation, recently demonstrated how a modified laser pen and pulse generator could disable self-driving cars. The homemade equipment only requires a low-cost computer such as the Raspberry Pi, to perform this feat.
Self-driving cars by Google and other auto manufacturers rely on thousands of sensors to help them navigate their path. Using the Raspberry Pi and over-the-counter laser, Petit was able to create “ghostlike” objects, that could fool the “eyes” of self-drive cars known as lidars.
“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 told tech magazine IEEE Spectrum. “I can take echoes of a fake car and put them at any location I want.”
According to Petit, if enough phantom objects were created, the car would stop completely.
The set-up cost was just $60 (£40), he said.
This is a rather alarming revelation for car manufacturers who use thousands of expensive sensors in their autonomous vehicles. It really seems bizarre that a $60 kit has the potential to disable the technology on which huge investments have been made.
Now that the loophole is revealed, hopefully, the driverless car makers will work to find a unbreakable fix.
Petit’s research paper will be presented at the Black Hat Europe conference in November.
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Gohar is the lead editor at TechFrag. He has a wide range of interests when it comes to tech but he's currently spending a big chunk of his time writing about privacy, cyber security, and anything policy related.