It has been reported that Uber plans to resume tests with self-driving cars, just a few months after a fatal crash in Arizona. IT security experts commented below.
Evgeny Chereshnev, CEO and Founder at Biolink.Tech:
“At the moment, the autonomous vehicles we have already – such as airport trains and the Docklands Light Railway in the UK – thankfully work hazard free because the journeys are very simple and predictable. Statistically, there is very little risk of anything going wrong because they’re programmed to only go from A to B. Even with other forms of partly automated transport, such as planes and ships, there is still always a human there to monitor them.
“However, on roads, autonomous cars have the potential to be compromised almost 100% of the time. There are many factors that bring significant risk to the use of autonomous cars, all of which are from other sources such as other human drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and even sudden extreme weather changes.
“Unless all cars are autonomous, sadly there is the potential for people to be injured or worse. That being said, I think it’s important not to kill the initiative of autonomous cars. Any risk of road accident by self-driving cars will be significantly less than the current number of road accidents – which is reported to be a staggering 1.25 million per year. Unfortunately, unless we have fully controlled environments on the roads, in the same way as with airport trains, for example, accidents can and will continue to happen.”
David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky Lab:
“There are undeniable benefits of modern technology, so it is understandable that we are so quick to adopt advancements. Despite this, there is a level of uncertainty surrounding the use of driverless cars, where safety is paramount. The fatality in Arizona has further added to these apprehensions, and it is reasonable to question whether it is wise to resume the use of these autonomous vehicles so quickly.
The idea of ‘switching off’ while a car transports us feels ‘wrong’ to many people. On top of this, there are real safety concerns. For example, if driverless cars are programmed to stop when they sense a pedestrian, what happens when they are confronted with a mass of people milling across a busy road? Will they wait all day? Perhaps one way forward would be to implement this technology only selectively – for example, for public transport purposes, rather than as private vehicles.
There are some real issues that society needs to tackle before driverless cars hit our streets. Let’s hope that safety standards will not be lowered to achieve a safety-usability trade-off.”