Following the news that self-driving cars have been given their first London test routes, David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, reiterates the importance of addressing both the safety and security concerns of these vehicles
As self-driving cars are given their first London test routes, this is a stark reminder that it is only a matter of time until driverless cars are on our roads and become a part of our everyday lives. While people may be quick to adopt this technology, they need to be aware of both the safety and security concerns that autonomous vehicles present.
Historically driving has always been an aspect of life with human control at its core. There are various levels of autonomy with self-driving cars – from add-on features such as parking assistance through to completely autonomous.
There’s also a ‘gray area’ between the two, where the driver has very little to do but has also responsibility for the vehicle and might need to take control at some point. As we know from motorway driving, there’s a danger that drivers will switch off because they have very little to do and might therefore be unable to regain control in a timely fashion in an emergency.
There are wider social and ethical questions to consider when it comes to driverless vehicles. Is it realistic or desirable, for example, for driverless cars to ever replace human drivers in the way that is sometimes described in the industry? And do we want to see a future where everyone continues to drive a private car – autonomous or not?
Whatever forms autonomy takes, it’s vital that companies developing technology for such devices put security at the top of their agenda and do not allow standards to be lowered to achieve a safety-usability trade-off.
More from David Emm in the June 2019 issue of ATTI.