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Hackers show how they tricked a Tesla into hitting objects in its path

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LAS VEGAS — A group of researchers presenting at last week’s Def Con hacker conference showed how they were able to overwhelm or deceive Tesla’s sophisticated sensors to make a car hit an object it would normally detect in its path.

“Normally the car will not move. However, when we jam the sensor it moves,” Chen Yan said in a talk on Friday while playing a demo video of a Tesla Model S attack.

“It hit me,” he added, to audience laughter.

It’s important to note that the demonstration was a proof-of-concept that did not mimic real-world conditions today. Researchers were working on cars that were usually stationary with what was sometimes very expensive equipment. They noted that the “sky wasn’t falling.”

But the experiment suggests that theoretically, a few years from now, somebody could make a device that could jam certain sensors in a nearby car.

The group, which consisted of Chen Yan, a PhD student at Zhejiang University, Jianhao Liu, a senior security consultant at Qihoo 360, and Wenyuan Xu, a professor at Zhejiang University and The University of South Carolina, presented a variety of new findings. They discovered methods for “quieting” sensors to diminish or hide obstacles in a car’s path, “spoofing” them to make an object appear farther or closer than it actually is, and jamming, which, Yan said, renders the sensor useless as it’s “overwhelmed by noise.”

“This is definitely interesting and good work,” Jonathan Petit, the principal scientist at Security Innovations, who has also presented research on deceiving autonomous vehicles, told Wired. “They need to do a bit more work to see if it would actually collide into an object. You can’t yet say the Autopilot doesn’t work.” – READ MORE

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