There's a feud between self-driving cars and the citizens of Tempe, AZ

Originally published at: There's a feud between self-driving cars and the citizens of Tempe, AZ | Boing Boing


Ooooooh, not THE PVC PIPE!



As much as I’d prefer a PVC pipe to a steel one, I’d still rather not be hit by one.




AKA Lowes Legolas


Ah well, we all knew that the robot uprising wouldn’t be in the form of silly easily kicked over human-shaped bipeds, didn’t we?


I have never seen any discussion of how autonomous driving is going to address scenarios of adversarial drivers who are looking for exploits in the driving tech.

The history of Internet community suggests this will be an issue sooner rather than later.


As a former AVO, we do get alerts of attackers that stalked vehicles, or thrown objects, and so on.

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Or how the could be used to attack others.

Or - if the company gets political or they get hacked - just shut down streets. And if you try to tow - just start moving three feet or attack the tow driver.


a backup driver riding in the backseat.

Otherwise known as a ‘passenger’ - and certainly NOT a ‘backup driver’, FFS!

What’s that, then?

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There are all kinds of attack surfaces here, and not just from people who are hating on autonomous vehicles for funzies (though this is itself potentially a huge issue). What if you could hijack a shipment just by spamming LIDAR or showing glitched images to a vehicle’s cameras? What if you could remotely stall a hazmat vehicle and then trigger a battery fire in a nearby electric car? Etc.

Also, what happens if your automomous vehicle manufacturer goes out of business and dissolves or gets sold and your car is “no longer supported”? This is a whole separate set of concerns.

This is a similar set of risk factors that medical IoT equipment has, except spread out across a physical network that expands across just about every populated region, which almost every person relies on individually and which society at large relies on without exception.


More like “JEEBUS THAT F*&KING HURT!!” might not break bones, but lots of soft tissue damage.

(has injured self screwing around with swinging PVC pipes)

Given how well Arizona drivers treat motorcycle drivers, this is not surprising at all. (Riding a motorcycle is dangerous enough, but people here? They will actively try and commit vehicular homicide because how dare you exist on MY ROAD.) Add in that the state had a pretty high ratio of people who just DGAF and this is what you get.

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AVO = autonomous vehicle operator

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The car had been in self-drive mode, with a backup driver riding in the backseat driver’s seat.

Fixed it for you.

This is a similar set of risk factors that medical IoT equipment has

Excellent analogy, and should be pretty chilling to anyone who has worked on Software As A Medical Device tech. Innovation is hard because the consequences of failure must be addressed comprehensively to an external entity that cares not at all for your roadmap timeline.

I don’t see Tesla, in particular, well suited to maintain the regulatory goodwill required to ship product in that environment.


Unfortunately, unlike medical devices, self-driving cars are really poorly regulated right now. It’s probably going to take a bunch of deaths before some sort of federal standards for their performance are established (like allowed number of deaths per year, or something similarly grim). When that happens, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Tesla and Uber drop out. Companies like that don’t want to play in any pools with lifeguards present.


That, and most medical devices that utilize IoT limit it to communications only and keep it strictly separate from any part of the device that performs a therapuetic function. The equivalent of autonomous vehicles in medical devices would be more like having an implanted defibrillator decide whether to deliver a life-saving shock based on Captcha responses to the intracardiac electrogram.

Even with some sensible controls, IoT medical devices are generally made by medical device experts, not security experts:

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