Even the incredibly bright minds behind the computers of Teslas can be outdone by a roll of electrical tape it turns out as McAfee conducts Advanced Threat Research testing on a pair of 2016 models. They have tested the cars for vulnerabilities in their artificial intelligence and have found out that something as simple as a 2-inch piece of electrical tape can change the car’s behaviour.
By placing the tape on a sign to change the way the numbers look, you can fool the MobilEye camera of the car into speeding. This was demonstrated on a sign showing 35mph. The tape was placed down the ‘3’ making it look like an ‘8’, which made the car accelerate.
Modern Teslas don’t rely on the MobilEye system so are now immune to this. But there are still approximately 40 million cars on the road that are open to this manipulation. The Teslas used in these tests had the Hardware Pack 1 camera system installed and each were in cruise control at the time of testing.
McAfee found a 100% success rate with all the signs and cars they tested, including signs that were clumsily defaced and that a human wouldn’t think twice about. The Tesla’s reaction was compared to a human’s, which made the main objective of this experiment.
Tesla has declined to comment but a MobilEye spokesperson explained that this wasn’t an issue because the cars don’t only use one sense at a time. Thanks to other technologies such as crowdsourced mapping, it has other sources of information to use to make sure it’s driving at the same speed. Although with a 100% success rate in this test, how correct is this assumption?