Oops! It looks as though McAfee has proven that hackers (or merely troubled teens looking to create trouble) can trick a Tesla into speeding by simply placing a piece of black tape on a speed limit sign.
The idea was to trick the MobilEye EyeQ3 camera system that Tesla makes use of into thinking the speed on the sign was much higher than it really was. All they had to do is apply a piece of black tape on a sign that read the speed limit as just 35 MPH and get the car to think that it actually says 85 MPH. By doing this, they were able to get the Tesla to accelerate as it drove by the sign.
They didn’t even fully convert the 3 to an 8. The piece of tape simply extended the middle line of the 3 outwards, similar to how an 8 would look within that area of the sign (if it was an 8). It wasn’t properly sealed on the left side to make it an 8. This was all it took to trick the Tesla. You can see it all happen in the following video:
There didn’t seem to be any doubt within the Tesla’s software to what the sign read. It literally thought that it was supposed to speed up to match the new (higher) limit. Clearly, this is something Tesla is going to have to go back and work on to prevent this from becoming a total epidemic, judging by how cruel kids can really be. Of course, McAfee explains it as an easy attack that hackers can carry out on these autonomous-capable vehicles.
We still have a long way to go before autonomous vehicles can safely replace humans on the road. Despite having a poor record when it comes to perfect driving habits, humans are still the best answer (for now) since it is quite difficult for computers to replace the capabilities of the human brain and how it can respond to an endless list of scenarios that one could possibly face on the road (human intuition). Now, if only humans could always respond with the right answer every time. This is where AI could absolutely come to the rescue. We just have to wait until AI understands every possible scenario there is–including how to understand scenarios that no one has ever been through or thought of. It’s through lessons and experiences like these though that allows us to slowly make our way there.
For now, never underestimate the capabilities of black gaff tape!