There’s Growing Concern Autonomous Semis Could Be Used as R.C. Terrorist Tools
Last year, tech publication Wired wanted to experiment. One of its writers Andy Greenburg linked up with two hackers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek to see what they could really do to a WiFi-equipped vehicle by breaking into its system. The short answer is everything and anything (including slamming on the brakes), and now with the looming wave of WiFi-reliant autonomous semi-trucks, people are worried about the worst. The worst, of course, meaning terrorists could take these truck over and use them as massive remotely controllable missiles.
As of right now, there are already self-driving fleets operating around the world. There are some in Asia, some in Australia, and last year Nevada made the first step toward allowing the tech by granting a license for autonomy level three trucks, which requires that a human still remain behind the wheel. So it’s not really a matter of “if” these trucks will hit the road, it’s a question of when it’s going to happen.
“Within the next 10 years, IHS Automotive analysts expect that autonomous heavy trucks will gradually grow into the market and potentially hit the 20,000-unit annual sales mark in the United States by 2025, most of which will be expected in the Class 8 segment,” Michelle Culver, a spokesperson for industry research firm IHS Markit, said. “Autonomous truck sales could reach 60,000 annually by 2035. That would amount to 15 percent of sales for trucks in the big Class 8 weight segment.”
When it comes to technology and new products, it’s necessary to be skeptical and expect the worst from everything. That’s how you learn how to stop bad things from happening, so it’s actually good to hear that the topic of cyber terrorism is coming up for these trucks. The problem is that the hackers who are possibly helping automotive companies aren’t necessarily the best of the best. Because the best of the best hackers most likely would never reveal themselves.
Another interesting way to look at this is that hacking isn’t necessarily a typical route for extremists. They don’t have to rely on technology, because they already have people who are willing to do the same thing. The extremists have already hacked into people and programmed them to believe in a cause that those people now think is worth dying for. So, although it’s another possible method for terrorists, it’s not something that’s already possible through other methods.
CNBC has more on the story.