All you need to get Tesla’s Autopilot to change lanes are a few stickers.Tesla’s autopilot uses cameras to recognize lane markings so it can position itself in the middle of the road and automatically change lanes if necessary. A team from Keen Security Labs, led by Chinese tech giant Tencent, was able to screw up a Tesla Model S system with just three stickers on the road.
The car’s autopilot system misclassifies decals applied over road markings to produce jagged edges instead of straight ones. This has prompted Tesla to turn to the wrong side of the road.
The hack worked because Tesla’s front-facing camera couldn’t easily tell the difference between the real floor markings and the sticker.
Tesla drivers have been able to use Autopilot since 2014, with the system’s capabilities gradually increasing each year. The 2017 update includes an auto-steering feature. Tesla founder Elon Musk previously said his driving aids could improve safety by up to 50 percent.
“This type of attack is easy to carry out and the materials are easy to come by,” the researchers said in their paper.
Tesla declined to comment specifically on the findings, but the company told New Scientist that the scenario Keen Labs concocted was not a real problem because the driver could simply override the Autopilot setting and take control of the car himself.
“Yes, humans can take over, but the evidence we have of people using such systems in the real world is not good,” said Jason Griffey of Harvard University. We have examples of people who have slept while being driven around by autonomous vehicles.
Lane-changing tricks aren’t the only problem Keen Security researchers have spotted: They can turn on the wipers in dry weather and also control the steering system with a wireless gamepad.