Cars these days are getting smarter where they come with a variety of sensors and cameras on board that can warn drivers of obstacles. All of this seems to be paving the way towards a future of self-driving cars, but it seems that there still needs to be some work done on them, especially when they can be tricked with a simple two-inch piece of tape.
In a recent demonstration by McAfee, they show how a Tesla car using Mobileye’s EyeQ3 camera system, can be fooled into unnecessarily speeding up by 50 miles per hour. Basically, the camera system reads speed limit signs. That information is then analyzed by the car which then determines the appropriate speed to drive while in cruise control (or Autopilot).
However, the researchers show that by adding a two-inch piece of black tape to a speed limit sign that reads 35 miles per hour, it tricked the system into reading it as 85 miles per hour, thus forcing the car to speed up from a nice gentle drive into a harrowing one.
According to Steve Povolny, a member of McAfee’s Advanced Threat Research team who was part of the research, “What we’re trying to do is we’re really trying to raise awareness for both consumers and vendors of the types of flaws that are possible. We are not trying to spread fear and say that if you drive this car, it will accelerate into through a barrier, or to sensationalize it.”
Now, if you own a Tesla or are planning to buy one, note that Tesla has since moved to using proprietary cameras for its newer models, while Mobileye has also upgraded its cameras which no longer make it susceptible to these types of attacks, but the fact remains that there are still plenty of older models on the road today that could potentially be affected.