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Researchers show how to confuse self-driving cars by adding stickers to street signs

By midian182 · 14 replies
Aug 7, 2017
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  1. Technology and automotive companies may see self-driving cars as the future of transportation, but many members of the public still aren’t won over by the idea, with safety issues being one of the main concerns. That fear might be compounded by a new report, which shows just how easy it is to confuse the cars.

    Car and Driver notes how security researchers at the University of Washington found they could easily trick autonomous vehicles’ image recognition systems by defacing street signs. By adding the words ‘LOVE’ and ‘HATE’ to the sign above, the computer vision algorithm no longer recognized it as a stop sign and instead believed it to be a speed limit notice.

    What’s worrying is the way some signs only needed slight modifications to throw off the cars’ algorithms. A Right Turn sign was created that looks very similar to the real thing, but the subtle alterations make it appear as a Speed Limit 45 sign to autonomous vehicles. The worst part is that these stickers could be made by anyone using a home printer.

    The researchers did suggest solutions to the problem. Using contextual information is one answer; a car could be programmed to question why a stop sign is on a highway, or a high speed-limit warning on a back road. Additionally, information from other sensors, such as cameras, lidar, and GPS, could be taken into account when determining if a sign is real.

    In late 2015, a research fellow at the University of Cork, Ireland, discovered a way of tricking self-driving cars into seeing phantom objects by using a home-made electronics kit costing less than $60.

    Estimates say it’ll be another ten years or more before self-driving cars are a common sight on our roads, which should give manufacturers enough time to iron out the bugs. But the vehicles are unlikely to ever become popular in India; the country’s transport minister recently said he would protect human jobs by banning the technology.

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    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2017
  2. erickmendes

    erickmendes TS Evangelist Posts: 567   +246

    Sure any system that need to "see" out world to move around would be better using other information sources while we don't perfect the way not only it see the world but also the way it's take decisions about it...
    Any Google Maps/Waze have a lot of information that could be used to help an autonomous system take decisions when it's "vision" can't be trusted. Still we need to think that an autonomous car could go "blind", loosing connection to it's lida/cams/infrared systems... So there should be in place other ways for it to keep driving (figure an 8 wheller at 60mph on a highway going "blind"). Whatever... just food to comments, I mean, though.
  3. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,249   +3,665

    I'm surprised the makers did not take that into consideration ....
  4. Kotters

    Kotters TS Maniac Posts: 330   +223

    Obscuring street signs confuses recognition software? You don't say.
  5. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,900   +3,345

    Obscuring road signs is a federal offense. As far as dumb pranks go, this one could carry a very hefty penalty.

    "the country’s transport minister recently said he would protect human jobs by banning the technology."

    Or, ya know, he could promote the technology and the high paying jobs that come along with it. It's like protecting the candle maker after light bulbs came around, pointless.
  6. JamesSWD

    JamesSWD TS Maniac Posts: 331   +182

    In the real world, people who do these things don't care about what the law says. That's why there are plenty of traffic & highway signs that are regularly defaced or even stolen, although it's against the law.
    Godel and namesrejected like this.
  7. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,927   +1,195

    LMAO...ten cent stickers screw up self driving cars.
    "the more complicated you make it...the easier it is to muck it up" (or something like that)
    Scotty...Star Trek III
  8. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,900   +3,345

    Not where I live.
  9. seeprime

    seeprime TS Guru Posts: 376   +405

    Absolutely. Unless there's a cop parked by every sign, like they do in speed traps, they're little more than suggestions.
  10. Evernessince

    Evernessince TS Evangelist Posts: 3,900   +3,345

    And yet we have modern technology like Cameras that are dirt cheap. You could add a solar powered camera to any sign on the cheap and it would be less than 5% of the cost of the sign.

    You may or may not be playing devil's advocate but you act like defacing these signs is A ok. People rely on these signs and defacing them can cause accidents. Instead of posting negative internet comment 3,452,567,133 how about you either restrain your tendencies or actually come up with something constructive. People seem eager to pick apart the smallest things in other's comments to get a quick sense of self satisfaction yet rarely offer a solution.
  11. dogofwars

    dogofwars TS Addict Posts: 175   +71

    They could use a map for street sign specifically. One reason is that robotic vision use pattern and do not understand what the picture says. Using map for street sign could alleviate this problem so at least it has a reference to compare so in case of confusion there is information about the sign.
  12. ddferrari

    ddferrari TS Maniac Posts: 412   +189

    I wonder how many people actually get their prank ideas from articles like this. Was this really necessary to share- or even a good idea?
  13. BabyFaceLee

    BabyFaceLee TS Booster Posts: 127   +44

    Self-drive cars are 'reading' traffic signs?? Is this serious?! ROFL, I'm genuinely surprised by this I really am.
  14. Reachable

    Reachable TS Evangelist Posts: 369   +183

    Yes. Having cars refer to a database of where signs are located rather than the physical signs themselves solves the problem. The physical signs would just remain for the humans.
  15. treetops

    treetops TS Evangelist Posts: 2,496   +513

    That sucks, how often do you hear about people removing stop signs? So yeah I don't really think this is a issue.

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