Who Gets the Ticket?

What happens when the driver isn’t “speeding” – but the car is?

Who gets the ticket?

It’s a question bound to come up soon in traffic court given the fact that some new cars – like Sammy Hagar back in the day – can’t drive 55.

Or rather, can be tricked into driving 85 when the speed limit is 35.

Amazon.com Gift Card i... Buy New $10.00 (as of 08:25 EST - Details) How do you trick a car to drive 50 MPH faster than the posted speed limit? By using black electrical tape to change the “3” to an “8” on a speed limit sign. McAfee (the computer anti-virus software company) researchers Shivangee Trivedi and Steve Povolny did exactly that and it fooled the apparently not-so-smart automated speed control system built into a late-model Tesla electric car.

Its Traffic Aware Cruise Control uses a camera to “read” speed limit signs – and automatically adjusts the car’s speed up or down accordingly – without any action by the driver. When the camera “saw” 85 it raised the car’s speed to 85 – or tried to.

The researchers hit the brakes to prevent it from running amok, but the point was made. If this hadn’t been a test – if the car “saw” 85 rather than 35 and the driver wasn’t paying attention, the result could be a very big ticket – or a very bad accident.

Possibly both.

Teslas aren’t the only cars with this type of tech, either. It’s is a building block of autonomous – of automated – driving tech. Which – as the McAfee researchers just established – isn’t infallible and can be just as dangerous as a reckless driver.

Especially when the driver isn’t paying attention to a recklessly driving car.

Given that the whole point of automated driving tech is to enable the driver not to – and given the fact that technology is no more infallible than the human beings who create it – it’s inevitable that automated cars will drive fallibly.

And fatally.

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