Self-driving car sensors can be hacked using a laser pointer and a Raspberry Pi

By midian182 ยท 11 replies
Sep 8, 2015
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  1. A research fellow at the University College of Cork, Ireland, has discovered a way of tricking self-driving vehicles into thinking a car, pedestrian or wall is in front of them, forcing the vehicle to take evasive action.

    Jonathan Petit, who is also the principal scientist at Security Innovation, outlines in a research paper how a self-driving car’s Lidar (light detection and ranging) sensing technology can be tricked into seeing phantom objects using a home-made electronics kit costing less than $60.

    In the paper, which is to be presented at the Black Hat Europe security conference in November, Petit describes how a system built with off-the-shelf components such as a Raspberry Pi or Arduino and a light-emitting laser can fool the cars from up to 330 feet. The attacks can take place from in front, from the side or behind the vehicle and without alerting the passengers. The method doesn’t even require the laser beam to be accurately focused on the Lidar unit, according to IEEE.

    Petit began by recording pulses from a commercial Ibeo Lux Lidar unit. As they were not encrypted, he could access them and play them back at a later date in order to make the Lidar system believe objects were in its path.

    “The only tricky part was to be synchronized, to fire the signal back at the Lidar at the right time,” said Petit. “Then the Lidar thought that there was clearly an object there […] I can spoof thousands of objects and basically carry out a denial-of-service attack on the tracking system so it’s not able to track real objects.”

    Google, Lexus, Mercedes, Audi and other car manufacturers all user Lidar on their prototype driverless cars. Petit has suggested the manufacturers implement a “misbehavior detection” system that can filter out implausible objects to protect self-driving vehicles from this type of attack.

    The discovery is the latest in a series of reported vulnerabilities found in modern vehicle technologies; Chrysler mailed out patches for its Jeep Cherokee security flaw on USB drives yesterday, and last year a Chinese security firm successfully hacked a Tesla Model S to take control of its systems.

    Permalink to story.

  2. 9Nails

    9Nails TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,215   +177

    Always good to have some sort of redundancy in these systems.
  3. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 8,647   +3,274

    Of course things like this are bound to happen. There's still a long road ahead (no pun intended) for autonomous cars before they're everyday things and even then the problems won't stop.
  4. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,308   +430

    Self Driving cars are the dumbest idea since quadraphonic. I do give credit to the folk getting $ to do the work but really how senseless. I think the only people that like them are the smartphone junkies
    Misagt likes this.
  5. Satish Mallya

    Satish Mallya TS Maniac Posts: 151   +118

    The obvious solution is to encrypt the probing signal. Or use multiple laser frequencies with strict frequency filtering and frequency hopping AND encryption. If military radar can do it, so can civilian lidar.
  6. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,286   +902

    Yeah I mean, how dumb to try to avoid human (in)decision that leads to accidents hahaha yah how funny! Or how annoying it would be to go on a long drive while you take a nap, I mean come on if it's not on my bed I won't do it! Seriously... funny how dumb the idea feels.
    Uvindu, insect and stewi0001 like this.
  7. stewi0001

    stewi0001 TS Evangelist Posts: 1,681   +1,080

    I have a better hack, throw actual objects at it. :p
    Uvindu likes this.
  8. Steve

    Steve TechSpot Editor Posts: 2,869   +2,038

    That's called a brute-force attack.
    Uvindu and stewi0001 like this.
  9. Badvok

    Badvok TS Addict Posts: 174   +66

    Amazing what they call 'hacking' these days, I thought it was bad when they described guessing someone's voice mail PIN as hacking, now throwing a few stray laser beams at a car using lidar is considered 'hacking' it.
  10. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,286   +902

    Yeah, decoding, determining which ones are which and then sending information back through a MOTHER FREAKING LAZOR!, what a script-kiddie!

    Really Badvok?? REALLY?
  11. JamesandBennie

    JamesandBennie TS Booster Posts: 170   +14

    Shine a laser pointer in the eyes of a driver or pilot and see what happens. There's a time when you have to count on people not doing stupid things. Now move on...
  12. EClyde

    EClyde TS Evangelist Posts: 1,308   +430

    Pie in the sky.....How stoopid to think otherwise...self driving cars ha ha ha ha.

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