back to article Would insurance firms pay out if your driverless car got hacked?

"Pointy-headed technocrats" behind autonomous vehicles tech are worried that a proposed new law won't protect the public from huge financial claims if a mass hack of a driverless car fleet occurs. Expert submissions to the committee of MPs considering the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill are full of concerns on a range of …

  1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Cost of charging

    Ultra-fast chargers are not cheap - tens of thousands of pounds. But that's not necessarily what they cost. Our village shop has just done a deal with one of the providers and they're installing it free, and also paying to upgrade the power feed to the site. I assume this involves govt subsidies and a review of how many other points there are in the area.

    1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: Cost of charging

      Out of idle curiosity, how did the above deserve a down vote. It's a simple statement of fact. Is the down-poster in the pay of Big Oil and opposed to all electrical vehicles? Or a neo-liberal who hates the idea of subsidies? Or are there grammatical errors of which I am unaware?

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "a precedent [to] allow insurance companies to weasel out of claims "

    Never heard such nonsense. Would an insurance company ever do that?

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Does no one know?

      The easiest and bestest solution is just to stick them out against each other. *They* really don't want to pay out, so if you get two of them in a tackle, to decide which one is to pay out, well, they cannot both back down!

      (Works for car accidents with 2 involved, might be a bit tricky with house insurance, but possibly have a second gadget insurance/warranty?)

    2. Fatman Silver badge
      Joke

      RE "a precedent [to] allow insurance companies to weasel out of claims "

      Why not!!!

      You have to fund the executive bonus pool somehow!!!

  3. Pete 2 Silver badge

    A one-way street

    > driverless vehicle software updates would take place "over the air" and explained that "several BVRLA members have indicated they will not accept [this] as this means that sensitive customer, driver and/or vehicle data could be accessed by the manufacturer

    This sounds to me like a rather desperate attempt at misinformation. There is no reason why a software update that is pushed to a vehicle (or PC or phone) would have the need or means to collect any information and pass it back. The payload can be delivered, validated by the vehicle (or PC blah blah) and installed. There is no need for data to travel in the other direction, once the vehicle's unique identifier has been received by the software dispatcher.

    A further "safeguard" might be to have the updates handled by a third party. One that is obligated to NOT send any information back to the manufacturer.

    1. The Mole

      Re: A one-way street

      FUD, but as with most point has a gem of truth that it allows manufacturers to suddenly introduce new 'features' which suddenly cause the vehicle to share new classes of information that it didn't before. But given how much vehicle movements are tracked in the uk perhaps not the biggest worry.

    2. iron Silver badge

      Re: A one-way street

      An over-the-air update to a Google car could change the microphone for Google Assistant to always on and sending everything back to base. That would not require the update process to be phoning home and would be feasible with an independent, third-party handling updates but would be undesirable in a car occupied by members of the MoD. Not to mention I wouldn't want it to happen in my car.

      It's not like they don't have form for that kind of thing...

      1. Fatman Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: A one-way street

        <quote>An over-the-air update to a Google car could change the microphone for Google Assistant to always on and sending everything back to base. That would not require the update process to be phoning home and would be feasible with an independent, third-party handling updates but would be undesirable in a car occupied by members of the MoD. install new features like targeted advertising which are bundled in a Security and Safety Update. This new feature dumps targeted advertising. to the touchscreen when you are stopped. Not to mention I wouldn't want it to happen in my car.

        It's not like they don't have form for that kind of thing...</quote>

        FTFY!!!

        Oh, and BTW, decide to decline the Security and Safety Update, your insurance will be void as you are driving an unsafe car.

        Never underestimate the depths (in the septic tank) advertisers and marketers will go to in order to shovel their (advertising) shit into your face.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: A one-way street

      "There is no need for data to travel in the other direction, once the vehicle's unique identifier has been received by the software dispatcher."

      The experience of people with Freeview boxes demonstrates that multiple manufacture/model updates can be broadcast over the air and only the relevant boxes will update with no data, or even a data connection, back to the mothership. Although for the sake of safety, I would be happy for the car to confirm it's VIN and success status of the update back to base.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An electrical charging point at a garage for a car that takes a few hours to charge is a waste of time.

    You would be better installing them in car parks for Supermarkets or shopping centres. I'm pretty sure when the time comes they'll do it themselves anyway.

    As for insurance companies I have two words the second being off.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They already do, in places like IKEA. And people do seem to use them. Plus, the fast chargers only take 20-30 minutes so it's not as if you're stuck at the site for hours at a time...

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "An electrical charging point at a garage for a car that takes a few hours to charge is a waste of time."

      What!? Why not charge up your car in the wee hours while you are asleep instead of paying some third party 2-3x the cost of the leccy for the privilege of using their cable?

      Chargers in car parks, markets, theaters is all fine, but I don't spend a couple of hours each day at the shops. I DO spend many hours a day at home.

    3. FlossyThePig

      What does Kryten think?

      I regularly watch the youtube videos for the fullychargedshow. One of the recent ones related to Robert Llewellyn appearing as a witness to the committee stage of the Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill. I'm sad enough to follow the link and watched what he said to the committee. Plenty of interesting ideas, e.g. incorporate charging point in street lighting, multiple charging points (not the token 1 or 2) at supermarkets which can add 20-30 miles to the car's range while you shop, and more.

      As an aside E-ON are planning a network of superchargers than can supply power way beyond the ability of any current EVs to fully utilise (think Porche concept car).

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: What does Kryten think?

        That's the sort of infrastructure that will be needed - with points in all sorts of places. Until now the publicity has naively referred to people plugging the car in at home overnight, when it's on the drive or in the garage. What proportion of people fit that model? A fair few people use on-street parking.

        The idea of charging points in car parks is obvious (not necessarily IKEA) - perhaps at station or office/factory car parks where a car is left for 8 hours or so - and which can therefore make use of perhaps a 7kW charger. The problem is that the ultra-fast 30-min charge jobs pull a hell of a lot of current (80 amps or so?). A car-park full would need a private power station (e.g. motorway service station, where people will want a full charge not just a 20% top-up.)

        Long term? It'll be interesting to see how it develops. I'm worried that we'll spend billions on infrastructure for the EV version of our existing car ownership model, and then discover that we all get rid of private cars and just call an electric self-driving Smart car when we want one. After all, the pattern of car ownership after a few decades was very different to the ownership of horses and carts.

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

    New Scam for Thieves

    Just go online and probe for unpatched/vulnerable driverless cars currently parked. Upload instructions for them to deliver themselves to the nearest chop shop.

    1. TechnicalBen Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: New Scam for Thieves

      And once everything is AI and automated, they could drop themselves in the local "robot recycling facility" for a nice return fee :D

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: New Scam for Thieves

        I still think the best scam is to blackmail a large city by threatening to shut down a whole load of cars on the motorway at 5:20pm on a Friday evening, during heavy weather.

        Autonomous protests might be another avenue. Have a load of cars park in ranks right in the middle of London or New York or Beijing and then blow their fuses except for the horns, those will be pegged on until the batteries go flat.

  7. DougS Silver badge

    Someone has to pay

    Software makers have already absolved themselves of liability via shrink wrap licensing. Do we really think that Google won't include a "click OK to accept this 7680 page user agreement" which would absolve them of all liability for software bugs or hacks. I mean, has anyone successfully sued Microsoft for ransomware that cost them money? Thought not...

    Suing the owners (assuming it is you and me, rather than someone like Uber or Hertz) is impractical - kind of a reverse class action suit. Logistics make it a non-starter.

  8. The First Dave

    "the car that you parked in the evening may have a whole range of new functions added overnight"

    That'll be the day! If these cars are built by the likes of Samsung or Google, then they will lose a feature every night, totally unrelated to them trying to sell you the latest version that has yet to lose said features.

    1. Fatman Silver badge

      RE: may have a whole range of new functions

      More likely, you wake up in the morning after an OTA update to find features that you paid good money for are gone.

      How many of you have had experiences where a product or service that must phone home in order to work, stops working because the vendor pulled the plug.

      For my ex-gf it was Microsoft's Plays For Sure, boy, did she get screwed!!!! (and she used to complain that I was a Luddite because I always insisted on a physical medium for media purchases.)

    2. DougS Silver badge

      Car ownership

      More and more I'm starting to believe those who say owning a car will become very rare. If like me you don't commute to work, it doesn't make sense to own something you use maybe a half hour on an average day - and occasionally have days where you don't use it at all.

      This is probably why I drive a car older than average - though other than a few subtle styling cues (no GPS shark fin, no daytime LED array) you'd never know as it looks brand new, and has less than 100K miles on the odometer. I won't replace it until something goes wrong with it that costs more to fix than it is worth, or it stops being 100% reliable.

      A lot of people don't own the cars they have in their garage now, they lease them. Between that and Hertz style daily/weekly rentals, Uber/taxi style on-demand rentals, perhaps fractional ownership of a fleet ala NetJets, there may be little reason for the average person to own a car.

      That removes much of the room for automakers to issue software updates that take away features people depend on. As an individual it is hard to complain when that happens, but if you own a whole fleet you can say "if that feature isn't restored I'm going to take the millions I spend with you elsewhere".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Car ownership

        "More and more I'm starting to believe those who say owning a car will become very rare."

        Pardon my french, but that is just a load of dog squeeze from some shortsighted nit in a high density area. No one in any little town more than 30 miles from a major city throughout much of the United States will be ordering cars for a " just in time" run to the store or post office. That is about 150 million or more people in the U.S. , and MOST of the 7 billion people on this planet, who will NOT be ordering up a car to come out to their rural destination. That someone would even think this shows just what a bubble they are living in.

        Now, change that to : "More and more I'm starting to believe those who say owning a car IN A MAJOR METROPOLITAN AREA/City WITH ADEQUATE POWER INFRASTRUCTURE will become very rare." . There. I fixed it for you. This might be true, but not for the REST of the world.

        From Wiikipedia:

        "Horizontal Width: 437 km (271 miles) from the far western coastline of Wales, directly east to Ipswich.

        Vertical Length: 967 km (600 miles) from the far northern edge of mainland Scotland to the southwestern tip of England, just west of Falmouth."

        Wiki also lists the population of the UK as 65 million. With a proper electrical grid, you might be right. But that CANNOT be applied to Alaska, or Montana, or even Georgia (heck, not even California. Along the coast in major metro areas... maybe.)... or ANY South American/African/Asian country.

        Those who say "owning a car will be rare" refuse to look at the reality of the world, and only consider their major metropolitan bubble life.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019