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Transportation Hardware Hacking It's funny.  Laugh.

Fooling a Mercedes Into Autonomous Driving With a Soda Can 163

Posted by Soulskill
from the most-dangerous-nap-you'll-ever-take dept.
New submitter Petrut Malaescu writes: Last year Mercedes introduced an intelligent Lane Assist system to its S-class, which is cataloged as a Level 1 "Function-specific Automation" system. In other words, hands and feet must always be on the controls. But a clever driver discovered that all it takes to keep the car in Lane Assist mode is a soda can taped to the steering wheel. It's enough to trigger the steering wheel sensor that's supposed to detect the driver's hands. Obviously, it's not a good idea to try this on a busy highway.
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Fooling a Mercedes Into Autonomous Driving With a Soda Can

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  • Boo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timeOday (582209) on Friday August 01, 2014 @02:45PM (#47584093)
    Cars are generally not designed to be resistant to 'hacking' by their owner/operators, and should not be. Yes, you can drive without a seatbelt if you snip the little blue wire. You can disconnect your airbags. You can cause your tires to explode just by letting out most of the air and driving on the freeway.

    Presenting this as some sort of coup fosters the notion that he system ought to be idiot-proof. No sudo rm -fR / for you! We'll put a thousand annoying and ultimately useless obstacles in the way to doing any little thing!

    Don't blame the car for not protecting itself from you.

  • Re:Obvious (Score:5, Insightful)

    by boristdog (133725) on Friday August 01, 2014 @03:07PM (#47584297)

    Unfortunately, lane keeping and distance keeping are skills that elude a lot of drivers.

  • by purplie (610402) on Friday August 01, 2014 @04:27PM (#47585059)

    "Pseudo-autonomy" is where the driver is expected to be alert and ready to take over. Therefore,

    Autonomous car is to Chauffeur
    as
    Pseudo-autonomous car is to Student Driver

    Ever chaperoned a student driver? Nerve-wracking, and harder than just driving the car yourself. Forget it.

  • Re:Soda can... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lgw (121541) on Friday August 01, 2014 @05:13PM (#47585383) Journal

    Where I drive, you simply can't leave any more distance when traffic is heavy: if you leave reasonable space between you and the car in front of you, someone will pull in. It's a bit nuts.

    But the great thing about this tech is that, unlike me, it has the reflexes to always react safely and the ability to maintain that focus indefinitely. I rely on "looking upstream" to predict changes in traffic flow, and that works well enough, but it doesn't help with drivers who are just crazy, lose a tire, or other such unpredictable events. Now, I'm not sure what scope of events the car can react to, as it's early days yet for self-driving, but in principle it's great.

    How close you drive to the car in front of you is a matter of reaction time. I expect we'll no longer be bound by the limits of the human nervous system, soon enough.

  • Re:Soda can... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thegarbz (1787294) on Friday August 01, 2014 @06:34PM (#47585981)

    Where I drive, you simply can't leave any more distance when traffic is heavy: if you leave reasonable space between you and the car in front of you, someone will pull in. It's a bit nuts.

    I've heard this before, but in my experience there's actually very little to it. The people inclined to pull in front of you just because your lane is slightly faster than the other are also those who are inclined to pull out again the first chance they get. Or people who actually want to be in your lane frequently do so because they need to turn off anyway. In either case you're exactly where you were to being with.

    Now if they don't do that, how worse off are you? Say 20 cars pull in front of you in your short trip, you're now 20 car lengths back from where you would have been. At 60km/h it means it'll take you an additional whopping 10 additional seconds to get to your destination.

    People are a horrendous judge of risk vs reward, especially on the road.

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