Securing driverless taxis is going to be really, really hard


Complicating those fixes? Companies like Uber and Didi don’t even make the cars they use, but instead have to bolt on any added security after the fact.

Maybe. But if they’re ordering 100,000 cars, they might have some clout with the manufacturer. Police cars have special features added by the manufacturer, and I think they manufacture a special taxi model as well. Sprucing up security will be easier at the factory.

Now the thing is to make manufacturers aware they need to fix this problem before they start turning riders into hamburger.


Easy enough to direct the car to an alley with a towtruck. A few snips with some wirecutters or putting a magnetic shield over the GPS antenna and then you tow the truck to your lair. Enough different pick up places and this should be fairly easy.


Ghosts. Cars run by ghosts. You know, like with smart phones.


Ah, driverless taxis… The joy of finding out what bodily fluids (or solids) the previous passenger left in the vehicle.


Why exactly does virtually every tech gizmo that gets featured on this site receive gushing praise except self-driving cars?

This was some of the dumbest fear-mongering I’ve seen yet. An unsecured self-driving car could be… stolen?! Horrors! Imagine if that could happen now! People could just get into a vehicle that wasn’t theirs and drive away with it! Taxis couldn’t be monitored and people could have film scat porn in them because despite the fact we can facetime with a tracfone, that sort of thing could never be implemented in a cab becauseanyway self-driving cars have too many problems that are all completely insurmountable, and will never work.

Perhaps we need to have them proceeded by a person carrying a red flag, so that other normal cars will not get the vapors and randomly crash into them.


It sounds like the OBD II port needs to be accessible by the driver / owner of the vehicle and any authorized mechanics. If the driver is a computer and owner is a corporation, is there a reason it can’t be protected from tampering?


If it’s anything like car2go or Zipcar it’ll be a looooooot of residual weed smell. But these companies do have a model for this. Riders are known member of the service, and they know who has swiped in and out. It all depends on whether the next human to climb in wants to report what you left behind…although, if you plan ahead, you can always report your leavings as being those of the previous user…


Are you Rob Ford?


The driverless taxi should definitely have an odor-detection system and the ability to yell obscenities at offending passengers.

Maybe someone could invent something similar to those automatic toilet seat covers, but for the car’s entire seating area and floor.


I thought that was why they were developing these little driverless trolleys - to go in front of the driverless cars and warn people of their approach.

All the objections seem to me to ignore the fact that driverless cars are basically rolling surveillance machines. They have to be, to navigate. They are going to have inside and outside cameras and sensors, and people are going to have to pay to use them with non-anonymised accounts. Sure, throw up in your self-driving taxi. Expect a large bill for cleaning and loss of opportunity. Sure, steal a credit card. The facial recognition software will alert the police that the person with the card is not the owner. And the sanction is that if you rack up enough bad points you will lose the ability to use them. You’ll be a bus and foot passenger.

The surveillance state does have some potential benefits, as well as very big downsides. You can argue that the downsides outweigh the benefits. But the fact remains that every year the roads get more congested, parking becomes more of a problem, and the number of people who text while driving, kill or seriously injure other people, and generally make driving unpleasant diminishes, if at all, very slowly. At the same time the number of older people who have trouble driving increases. The sheer potential economic and social benefit of self driving cars is as big as the benefits of railways in the 19th century - it’s individualised public transport. There were many problems with early railways. They were overcome.



Transport truck as a faraday cage solves multiple problems at once.

[...] I could imagine a self-driving car powered by biotech [...]
So, technically, a chauffeur?


Subways are great for densely populated urban areas, less useful for getting anywhere that isn’t near a major transit hub. Or getting around while carrying a bunch of luggage or groceries. Or getting around if you’re someone who has difficulty walking.


Wait… isn’t he dead? Should we start a thread?


I strongly suspect that Uber knows that already. Just don’t tell the investors, mmmhkay?


I bet you could find people who would be willing to keep an eye on three dozen driverless taxi interior video feeds for less than a single Uber driver makes.


Isn’t Elon Musk already on that with Hyperloop?


Can’t be blocked from the owner, I would think. You expect us to believe that law is written so badly? Well… you know… could be!

I think all popobawa is saying is, “or, you don’t do it that way.” I agree. Given the current state of the US government, well shit, I don’t think I’m okay with the government beginning to license a service of truly autonomous vehicles. And personally, I’m not okay with anarchy, either. So don’t make driverless cars, then. I’m a technologist, and it’s cool tech; but fuck it.

Now, as to what’s really likely to occur: it’s a very different discussion, right?


There is another point that usually gets overlooked. The driverless car won’t let you go to wherever you might want to go. The driverless car will let you go to where you are allowed to go, where you are supposed to go. It will take you to work. It will take you to the shops and bars and restaurants you can afford and where they’ll let you in. There will be places you’ll never even get close to. And unless you pay extra, you will still end up sitting in a smeggin’ traffic jam each and every day because the premium account holders will get priority routing.

Well, yes, as the son of parents who once risked life and limb to get out of an existing old school surveillance state, that’s exactly how I’d argue. The downsides do outweigh the benefits, and then some.