In what is likely going to be another thorn in the side of Elon Musk, Tesla and Autopilot, it was revealed in a report last week that many self-driving features in vehicles can be “messed with” using lasers.
A brand new study that was put together and uploaded in late October, called “You Can’t See Me: Physical Removal Attacks on LiDAR-based Autonomous Vehicles Driving Frameworks” made the revelation, which was also reported on by Cosmos Magazine.
Researchers in the U.S. and Japan found that vehicles could be tricked into not seeing pedestrians (or other objects in their way) using lasers. These cars, which use LiDAR to sense objects around them, send out laser lights and then use the reflection back to judge how far away objects are.
The study revealed that a perfectly timed laser shone back into a LiDAR system can create “a blind spot large enough to hide an object like a pedestrian,” according to Cosmos.
The study’s abstract says: “While existing attacks on LiDAR-based autonomous driving architectures focus on lowering the confidence score of AV object detection models to induce obstacle misdetection, our research discovers how to leverage laser-based spoofing techniques to selectively remove the LiDAR point cloud data of genuine obstacles at the sensor level before being used as input to the AV perception. The ablation of this critical LiDAR information causes autonomous driving obstacle detectors to fail to identify and locate obstacles and, consequently, induces AVs to make dangerous automatic driving decisions”