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Watch hackers manipulate a Tesla on Autopilot into accelerating to 85 MPH
A group of researchers from McAfee recently demonstrated how manipulating a speed limit sign can cause a Tesla in Autopilot mode to behave erratically. Specifically, researchers placed a tiny sticker on a 35 MPH speed limit sign and, as a result, both a 2016 Tesla Model X and Model S in Autopilot mode interpreted the speed limit to be 85 MPH. In turn, both vehicles started to accelerate to 85 MPH.
The experiment, which was obviously conducted in a controlled environment, helps illustrate some of the inherent challenges associated with achieving Level 5 autonomous driving. While the underlying technology can improve by leaps and bounds — and it has over the past few years — there’s no way to fully account for a range of external factors. Notably, the margin for error when driving around in a vehicle that weighs thousands of pounds is simply too small — and the risk of injury too great — to make fully self-driving cars practical, in my opinion.
A video of the demonstration can be viewed below:
Incidentally, MIT Technology Review notes that this is not the first time we’ve seen researchers manage to fool a Tesla in Autopilot mode... there’s no denying that Tesla’s self-driving software has improved dramatically. Still, the idea of fully ignoring the road and letting a car drive itself with no driver oversight currently seems implausible, if not downright dangerous.
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