Motorists who buy semi-autonomous or self-driving cars in future could face a big threat from cyber crime, a security expert is warning.
The Institution of Engineering and Technology's (IET) Hugh Boyes claims that the nation can expect traffic chaos if just 1% or even 0.1% of the new smart cars get tampered with and stop functioning properly.
Mr Boyes says that software technology has to become much more trustworthy if motorists are to place their faith in some systems not to malfunction.
He says that you only have to see the tailbacks that quickly happen in London when just one car using a key road breaks down. Autonomous cars' cyber security will be vital in keeping motorists from calling on their breakdown cover as a result of such errors, he added.
RAC chief engineer David Bizley said: "Whilst there is always some risk that computer systems embedded within an autonomous vehicle can be hacked into, the question has to be asked how great is that risk? These vehicles will have to operate without being dependent on external communications networks and manufacturers will build firewalls between the safety critical systems and the vehicles' systems that communicate externally.
"And, as they say, to be forewarned is to be forearmed. Manufacturers will be ensuring that the new technology they bring to market is more than robust to ensure motorists have confidence in driverless vehicles."
Talking at the publication of the IET's new study into tomorrow's autonomous cars, Hugh Boyes said that hacking risks are not yet on car manufacturers' radar.
Driverless cars are likely to be rolled out between now and the end of the 2020s.
Copyright Press Association 2014