Police Want the Ability to Control Self-Driving Cars


It seems the number of perplexing regulatory questions relating to self-driving cars are piling up as fast as automakers can create workable prototypes. So will we have it all settled by the time these autonomous vehicles are “street-ready?” A new report suggests – maybe not.

Reuters recently covered a 39-page summary of a March meeting amongst regulatory stakeholders, including the federal DOT and several industry groups, where they settled on a fairly scary thesis: that the question is not IF but WHEN a massive cyberattack targeting autonomous vehicles would occur, and that it was imperative to spend time now in preparation.

The experts on the panel said it really comes down to about 10 or 15 key points that will help clarify the strategy around self-driving regulation, including things like how the cars would be integrated with the objectives of public safety officials. Reuters says law enforcement representatives on the panel suggested they would want to be able to interact with potentially – or even control – these vehicles in the event of an emergency.

And while certain existing services already have the capability of stopping a moving vehicle – GM’s OnStar comes to mind – the panel expressed concern about how this access for law enforcement could serve as just one more entry point for nefarious parties wishing to infiltrate and exploit the systems.

Other points in question include privacy issues. Will it be a requirement for cars to share their data – and with whom?

The summary comes at a time when autonomous vehicle development firms are urging a comprehensive federal plan rather than a grab bag of possibly conflicting state regulations. The Transportation Department is supposed to release an update on where we’re at with the guidance later in the summer, says Reuters, but there’s one thing for certain now: following a recent deadly crash where a self-driving Volvo mowed down a pedestrian, fears of the technology have ramped up.

According to a May 2018 study by AAA, 73 percent of Americans surveyed say they are fearful of riding in a self-driving car, a figure that’s spiked by ten percentage points from just four months earlier when 63 percent said the same.

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