Young Girls could Kill Autonomous Driving

On behalf of Prof. Dr. Oliver Bendel, M. Hashem Birahjakli investigated possible attacks on self-driving cars as part of his final thesis in 2020. The supervisor was Safak Korkut. In the chapter “Attacking Scenarios on Sensors” the student divided into invasive attacks and non-invasive attacks. In the section on invasive attacks he dealt with different sensors and examined possible attacks based on scenarios: vision-based cameras (chewing gum, lipstick, and nail polish; spraying paint; transparent colored foil; concave lenses), radar (chaff, countermeasure), lidar (mirror and reflective objects; dust; face powder), inertial measuring unit (magnet), and sonar (carrot and stick; duct tape). In the section on non-invasive attacks he dealt with fake traffic signs, invisible or fake obstacles, and roadside attacks. The results of the work suggest that every 14-year-old girl could disable a self-driving car. So far, hacking has been seen as the greatest threat to autonomous driving. But while not everyone can hack, almost everyone carries chewing gum or lipstick. The automotive industry should consider this threat seriously.

The Future of Autonomous Driving

Driving in cities is a very complex matter. There are several reasons for this: You have to judge hundreds of objects and events at all times. You have to communicate with people. And you should be able to change decisions spontaneously, for example because you remember that you have to buy something. That’s a bad prospect for an autonomous car. Of course it can do some tricks: It can drive very slowly. It can use virtual tracks or special lanes and signals and sounds. A bus or shuttle is able to use such tricks. But hardly a car. Autonomous individual transport in cities will only be possible if the cities are redesigned. This has been done a few decades ago. And it wasn’t a good idea at all. So don’t let autonomous cars drive in the cities, but let them drive on the highways. Should autonomous cars make moral decisions about the lives and deaths of pedestrians and cyclists? They should better not. Moral machines are a valuable innovation in certain contexts. But not in the traffic of cities. Pedestrians and cyclists rarely get onto the highway. There are many reasons why we should allow autonomous cars only there.

Talk to the Shuttle

Olli 2.0 is born. Local Motors and IBM had presented an autonomous shuttle in 2016 that reminded of the Smart Shuttle operated by PostAuto AG in Sion, Valais. Unlike this one, however, Olli 1.0 could not only think but also speak, both at a high level and with the help of IBM Watson. Passengers’ wishes are accepted, for example with regard to destinations, and these are even suggested; when it is hot, the car drives to the nearest ice cream parlour. Olli could also reassure passengers or passers-by: “For citizens of Maryland, many of whom have never seen a self-driving car, Watson’s reassuring communications could be critical to making them more comfortable with the idea that there’s no human being at the wheel.” (Information IBM) Olli 2.0, launched in 2019, can not only access IBM Watson, but also Amazon’s deep learning chatbot service Lex. Something else is different from the predecessor: Olli is now 80% 3D-printed. This was reported by Techcrunch on August 31, 2019. The magazine contains more interesting information about the shuttle. By the way, it is intended for small areas, especially for trade fairs and university campuses. But like the Smart Shuttle, it has already been tested in small cities.