Unlike vehicles that were made up as recently as the early as the 1970s, today’s vehicles are basically rolling computers. Add in vehicle connectivity via satellite or cellular service, and could this open up a whole new world of vehicle hacking?
Imagine the scene: You’re in your vehicle and you set the cruise control. Your vehicle is equipped with laser cruise control, which adjusts your speed to maintain a set distance between you and the next vehicle. The system can even activate the brakes if it needs to. Some vehicles that are equipped with electric power steering. With sonar, advanced video cameras, and parallel parking logic, the car can basically park itself.
The only thing that makes all of this possible is software and electronic hardware. Could someone interrupt or use these systems for nefarious purposes? With the development of completely autonomous vehicles, which drive themselves, mean the end of safe driving as we know it? The real question is, “Could someone take your non-autonomous vehicle and make it autonomous?”
Right now, I’m driving a Toyota Prius, just like the one in the video above, and I imagine that if someone took the time to mess with my ECUs, it could indeed be dangerous. Now, I’m thinking that I would notice someone sitting in the back seat with a laptop after they’d ripped my dash out, but the fact remains that it’s possible to mess with or hack into vehicle systems.
Can they do it remotely? My gut says, “No,” but I also know that computer and communications technology could keep the scary guy with the laptop away from my car and in an office across the city or in another country altogether. Is it possible? Yes. Is it probable? Jury’s out on that one.