The Driverless Car
Earlier this year the UK Government announced that driverless cars will be permitted on public roads from the beginning of 2016.
On 30th July 2015 the UK Government announced that driverless cars will be permitted on public roads from the beginning of next year. The Department for Transport has made much of the advantages of driverless cars, including reduced congestion, greater road safety and more free time for drivers. However, many experts have concerns over the cyber security of such vehicles.
During a hacking demonstration orchestrated by technology magazine Wired, two hackers gained control of a reporter’s Jeep Cherokee through the car’s internet connection and drove him into a ditch. The hackers sent commands through the jeep’s entertainment system to its dashboard functions, steering, brakes and transmission. As well as nuisance attacks and the deliberate causing of accidents, hackers could also find driverless cars an easy target for theft. To a hacker it would be like leaving your keys in the ignition when you leave your car. Criminals could easily drive away with thousands of pounds worth of vehicle. Car manufacturers will find it difficult to keep pace with advances in hacking technology. Hackers no longer need access to an entire car to pick up on vulnerabilities. Sometimes all they need is access to just one component. Should anything go wrong, the cost of repairing these vehicles is also very high.
According to The Actuarial Post, the average estimated price of repairing driverless cars after an accident is £170,000. In addition, if there was a crash due to the malfunction of the automated systems, extensive software and hardware analysis would be necessary to determine the reasons for the crash. The Actuarial Post continues to say, although the technology should become cheaper with advances in technical know-how, these costs and the expensive equipment and software may inflate car insurance premiums, compensating for any reduction of accidents, and increase the demand for comprehensive policies.
There are also many other general potential implications for driverless cars. With cars becoming fully automated, risk may be transferred from the driver or vehicle owner to the manufacturer, as accidents may be principally caused by malfunctioning of systems. This may force manufacturers to have to insure whole fleets of cars, instead of drivers insuring themselves.
However, with new cars making up only 10% of road traffic, The Actuarial Post estimated that it will take 20 years to replace all cars on the roads, if it happens at all. Also unless driverless cars are made compulsory there will always be people who will want to retain control of their vehicles.