Carmakers have been working hard developing technology for self-driving cars and this includes sensors and algorithms to detect obstacles around them. The cars have to know when to brake, how to avoid things, and more to keep you safe.
Well, despite this, it looks like tricking a self-driving car is pretty easy and low-tech. All you have to do is deface a street sign. Simple.
Researchers at the University of Washington have found out that they can easily confuse self-driving cars by defacing street signs. All they had to do was put stickers onto signs and they convinced the car’s image-detecting algorithm that what they were seeing was a speed limit sign instead of a stop sign.
Obviously you could trick cars into speeding up when they’re supposed to slow down, or to stop when they should be driving. This is pretty dangerous. Interestingly, some of the images weren’t modified very much, yet were interpreted as something else entirely. As an example the researchers printed a Right Turn sign with some slight modifications, and overlaid it on top of an actual Right Turn sign which caused the car’s algorithm to read it as a Speed Limit 45 sign. The researchers think that using contextual information may overcome this problem. Self driving cars have a ways to go before they are safe.