Self driving cars! They can be disabled with lasers!

8 September 2015

google car Lasers are really exciting in films, but in real life, they're not nearly as fun. They don't go 'pew pew' and no-one has ever blown a spaceship up with one, as far as we know. However, things are hotting up in laser world, which is bad news for automated car enthusiasts.

Someone's assembled a gadget, that you can make at home if you're into that sort of thing, which can disable the systems that self-driving cars use to see where they're going.

This is according to a security researcher called Jonathan Petit, who showed off his car-halting skills by switching on his modified, cheapo laser which creates pretend objects in front of autonomous cars, which makes them stop. Perfect if you're thinking about getting into car-hijacking.

Petit, principle scientist at software company Security Innovation, cobbled together something that was similar to a laser pen and added a pulse generator, which you can make with a Raspberry Pi. Altogether, it set him back £40 and his gadget fooled the sensor on the cars, which are 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 IEEE Spectrum. "I can take echoes of a fake car and put them at any location I want."

"I don't think any of the lidar manufacturers have thought about this or tried this," he added.

If this all sounds like a bit of a faff, and you still want to annoy some drivers in a dangerous manner, you could just buy a laser pen and shine it directly into their eyes. Of course, if you end up getting arrested, we won't bail you out. You're on your own with this nonsense.

TOPICS:   Technology   Motoring

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