Warnings over cybercrime dangers of self-driving cars

Warnings over cybercrime dangers of self-driving cars
Motoring experts are warning that the drivers of tomorrow could be required to take out insurance protecting their autonomous vehicles from cybercrime.

According to the study, self-driving cars may be vulnerable to attack from hackers, who could commandeer the vehicle and even use it as a weapon.

The research predicts that cyber-criminals targetting driverless motors could then demand a ransom before handing back control of the vehicle to its owner.

It comes as the development of self-driving technology continues to gather momentum, with major motoring manufacturers rushing for a piece of the action.

Most recently, BMW announced a collaboration with leading tech firms in a bid to see driverless vehicles rolling off its production lines within the next five years. Google has also been testing driverless vehicles in California, US.

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The innovations could bring a raft of benefits to motorists by cutting the number of accidents that occur due to human error and increasing overall road safety.

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Some observers, such as US stock market investor Warren Buffet, have even predicted that this rise in safety could mean drivers may soon no longer be required to take out car insurance.

But the new research, carried out by insurance firm Axa, suggests that insurers may have to develop new types of cover to deal with the threat of cyber-criminals.

In addition, the report states that automakers themselves will have to ensure that vehicles come equipped with special security features able to deal with the new dangers.

Axa's technical director David Williams said: “We should acknowledge that there are unknowns with driverless cars, such as cyber security, and it is understandable that people may have a healthy scepticism of them.

“However, the many potential benefits, from lives saved through to climate change, present an overwhelmingly positive case for welcoming these technological developments.”

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The safety of self-driving technology was also called into question earlier this month following the announcement that a motorist had been killed while using the autopilot feature on his Tesla.

Road safety officials were said to be investigating the crash, which occurred on May 7 in the US and led to the death of 40-year-old Joshua Brown.

Initial findings suggest the car's cameras failed to spot a lorry that had turned in front of Mr Brown.

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