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Self-driving cars can be commandeered by both hackers and police

Almost everything in your vehicle can be messed with.

hacked tesla
Image: Wired

As the years go by, cars are becoming really smart, and also more connected to the internet than ever before. This can lead to horrific scenarios, such as having hackers remotely taking the control of vehicles, but these scenarios can also be positive – if used by the right people.

Imagine having your car stolen and, as soon as you call the police, they ask for your permission to take custody of your car – not just figuratively, but literally. Chief Innovation Officer Hans Schönfeld, who works for the Dutch police, says this is a very real scenario, as his team is working on this topic and has already tried with several models. As he notes,

We wanted to know if we can make them stop or drive them to certain locations. And the result is: yes, we probably can. The police tested several cars; Tesla, Audi, Mercedes, and Toyota. We do this in collaboration with these car companies because this information is valuable to them, too. If we can hack into their cars, others can as well.

Just like we can nowadays do with a smartphone or a laptop, some models feature a kill switch, which allows for a remote blocking of the vehicle. The idea of this project is to take this functionality a bit further by, for example, having the car drive itself to the nearest police station.

Check out how hackers (or police) could commandeer your vehicle

While, according to Schönfeld, this is still a somewhat distant reality (also because of the fact that autonomous vehicles are not yet allowed everywhere), the fact is that the new wave of innovation in the automotive market makes it a necessity for police forces to also adapt to these new realities.

Nowadays the focus of investigations still relies heavily on the drivers but, when autonomous cars become the norm, that focus has to be on the technology – for example, reading the sensors of cars that were involved in an accident in order to understand what went wrong and who is to blame.

What do you think? Does it make you worried about vehicle safety? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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