back to article FYI: You could make Tesla's Autopilot swerve into traffic with a few stickers on the road

The Autopilot feature in Tesla Model S vehicles could be fooled into swerving across lanes into oncoming traffic by mere stickers on road, researchers discovered. The eggheads also found a way to take control of the flash motor's steering with a wireless gamepad. Tencent Keen Security Lab documented this week how it …

  1. cortland

    Glass overkill

    They could much more easily and reliably be able to control the windshield wipers with a low-power laser shooting edge-on from the bottom of the glass to the top, or one side to the other; refraction from raindrops on the glass could be detected as modulation of the laser beam and turn the wipers on.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Glass overkill

      Since when have windscreens been flat ?

      Since when have windscreens been bug and debris free?

    2. 's water music Silver badge

      Re: lasers

      If you are going to have perimeter mounted lasers then you might as well shoot down the rain drops directly and do without windscreen wipers altogether. Presumably you would need a system to harvest rainwater from some other parts of the vehicle to sustain the sharks.

    3. Starace
      Flame

      Re: Glass overkill

      You mean a basic cheap diffraction sensor like everyone else uses successfully? Or maybe one of the fancy variations on that theme? But where would the disruption be in doing that when you can do something horribly complicated with a camera?

      Where the camera system might be handy would be detecting a dirty screen and washing it automatically but that isn't what they've done.

      The problem with inventing new solutions to solved problems (like they've also done with Sentry vs a normal alarm) is you often end up with a crap solution.

      1. tip pc Bronze badge

        Re: Glass overkill

        They are likely trying to keep the BOM down by using the software to replicate the task.

      2. Orv Silver badge

        Re: Glass overkill

        I recall one otherwise happy customer who complained the windshield wipers in his Tesla mistook his garage ceiling for rainfall, and came on every time he entered his garage.

        Rain sensing wipers are a solved problem, unfortunately Tesla decided to re-invent the wheel.

        1. nanchatte

          Re: Glass overkill

          “Rain sensing wipers are a solved problem, unfortunately Tesla decided to re-invent the wheel.”

          There’s your problem right there. They used a wheel to wipe the windscreen.

    4. Mike 137

      Re: Glass overkill

      There's a short lever on the steering column of my car that turns the wipers on and off (and adjusts their speed). When I see rain drops on the windscreen, I flick the lever. But of course that implies I'm actually looking out through the windscreen while driving - not staring at a "smart" phone. On the other hand, if I'm staring at the phone, does it mater if there's rain on the windscreen?

      All this hi-tech seems to be just desperately looking for something to do. Overkill indeed.

    5. zuckzuckgo

      Re: Glass overkill

      > They could much more easily and reliably be able to control the windshield wipers with a low-power laser shooting edge-on ...

      Completely impractical. There's just not enough room on the dash for the shark.

  2. 45RPM Silver badge

    These self drive systems are very cool but definitely not ready for prime time yet - and, as has been said many times before, Tesla’s is just too good. It’s so good that it fools the driver into thinking that it can do everything (which it can’t, not even close)

    The current best systems, in my view, are those which make a donkeys breakfast of providing a smooth and comfortable ride. They weave and jerk and so discomfit the occupants that the driver has to actively take control. All they do is keep an eye on the situation so that if the driver misses something - a person stepping into the road, for example, or sudden braking by another vehicle - they can rescue the situation and avoid an incident. That’s the best we can do currently.

    Sadly, in the case of the ‘too good’ system, where the driver is effectively the backup for the car, the driver is unlikely to be paying attention if disaster strikes and, even if they have got their eyes on the road and aren’t playing with the cars games and Easter eggs, their reaction time is likely to be limited.

    1. Trollslayer Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      This is the main risk - over confidence.

    2. MachDiamond Silver badge

      "Tesla’s is just too good."

      They've hit a middle ground where it works well enough in many situations that people get too complacent, bored and let their mind wander until a couple of meters before they plow into the back end of a stopped fire truck. (Why do Tesla vehicles have a hard on for emergency vehicles?)

      Another thing that people are much better at is seeing traffic far ahead slowing down or coming to a stop. Are auto nav systems going to recognize all of the brake lights ahead and start slowing down or think about getting off at the latest possible exit?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's actually possible to 'hack' conventional cars in a similar way to the stickers on the road. Just pop out and quickly move the traffic cones in a roadworks area. It's amazing how many carts blindly follow them straight into a dug up section of road or into oncoming traffic.

    1. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      I recall some yobs, in the middle of the night, taking the cones, flashing lights and barriers, which were stopping traffic from entering a huge excavation in one lane, placing them in the other with inevitable consequences.

      I wonder if autonomous cars will fare any better, or how they'll deal with 'invisible' IR reflective lane markers directing them straight into walls.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "how they'll deal with 'invisible' IR reflective lane markers directing them straight into walls."

        3M has come up with machine readable road signs so autonomous cars can get speed, approaching intersection/roundabout, construction zone, etc information. I think it's IR or something like that so the road side can be read by humans as well. What if somebody hacks one of those signs and sets the speed limit to 200kmh or down to 20kmh? That muck with people and somebody would have to go around and check the signs with a reader to verify that they are correct. I wonder if those signs get dirty if the car will still be able to read the information correctly. We humans know that if the 0 is missing or obscured that the speed limit is 40, not 4.

    2. Orv Silver badge

      Even dinosaurs can do it:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FuA5tO_c7s4

    3. Mark 85 Silver badge

      You don't even have to move cones where I live. The city will do it for you and every night they remove them. And they'll paint temporary (for some value of temporary) lines around repair work and then not remove the temporary lines when done. The cones go but not the lines.

  4. Lee D Silver badge

    That the web browser and the steering control are even on the same cable, let alone the same system:

    Complete design failure.

    1. ragnar

      It's unbelievable. All the talk about the importance of separating the screens from the flight controls for airlines, and Tesla can't even do it right when they're designing the thing from the ground up.

      1. Giles C

        Take the latest Rolls Royce Phantom, the gearbox talks to the satnav so it knows what gear it needs to be in for the next corner. What happens if the satnav fails or is broken?

        1. Mr Benny

          It defaults to conventional operation. You think the gearbox stops working as soon as the satnav looses its GPS signal in a tunnel or multi story?

          1. Gene Cash Silver badge

            > You think the gearbox stops working as soon as the satnav looses its GPS signal in a tunnel or multi story?

            Knowing Rolls Royce... yes!

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Take the latest Rolls Royce Phantom, the gearbox talks to the satnav so it knows what gear it needs to be in for the next corner. What happens if the satnav fails or is broken?

          ..or if Putin is visiting the area.

      2. MachDiamond Silver badge

        "Tesla can't even do it right when they're designing the thing from the ground up."

        To be fair, Tesla isn't the only mob that is covered in fail with this issue.

        I'm really at a loss to understand how I could have lived all of these years with a car stereo that wasn't hooked into the CAN bus.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Pretty much any modern mid to high end car now has a linked electronics system with infotainment and car systems on the same display and cable.

      1. Mr Benny

        Most conventional car systems are self contained with output only data eg ABS.

      2. Stork Bronze badge

        That does not make it a good idea.

      3. Lee D Silver badge

        Ford. 2.5 years old, straight from the factory. All the trimmings.

        No it doesn't. The infotainment bit is entirely separate, separate screen, separate box, separate controls, separate functions. It doesn't even pull in OBD data, and the conventional dashboard doesn't pull in anything from the infotainment. There's even one set of buttons on the steering wheel for one (up/down/left/right for dashboard) and a completely different set for the other (voice, volume, track control, etc.)

        I know this because the other day I had a dodgy SD card in for my music and the Ford Sync thing went absolutely ape... freezing, crashing, rebooting into maintenance mode, stopping the music for minutes and then skipping four tracks, etc. Turned out to be corruption on the SD card.

        Literally the only thing it affected... the infotainment and the A/C (which is controlled by the infotainment display). I was driving at the time and continued driving without anything flagging on the dashboard or any control issues whatsoever.

        Ford still make new cars that use the same isolation. Hell, you can swap out the infotainment for Android boxes online... it's a self-contained unit that gets a completely independent and isolated set of cables to read the sensors it needs to (e.g. GPS, USB, speakers, etc.) - and if you want OBD on that Android you literally have to connect it to your OBD port separately. You can pull the box entirely out, and just carry on driving like nothing happened.

        So, no, modern cars aren't all doing this on the same display and cable. Anything with half a brain is isolating them.

        And even if the *displays* are pulling data from both systems, that does not mean they can self-drive from the web browser. Anyone with a brain will be making one a read-only and isolating critical functions that - if they can be tampered with by something as simple as a bit of static on the user's fingers, or an MP3 crashing the music players, to the point that it can affect braking, steering, or anything else, they would be legally liable for.

        1. chrisd82

          He said modern "mid to high end" Ford is neither of those.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "a driver can easily override Autopilot at any time [..] and should always be prepared to do so"

    That is something that Tesla should be saying more loudly and more often.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "a driver can easily override Autopilot at any time [..] and should always be prepared to do so"

      But that doesn't seem very practical. If I drive and am in charge I've got stuff to do and I'm paying attention. If the car does everything a lot of the time I will not be paying attention, that's just how most humans work.

      1. Trollslayer Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: "a driver can easily override Autopilot at any time [..] and should always be prepared to do so"

        Agreed. That is why what people call accidents are correctly described as incidents.

      2. Dr Dan Holdsworth Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: "a driver can easily override Autopilot at any time [..] and should always be prepared to do so"

        This is what Google found with their self-driving cars.

        This is also what several different aircraft manufacturers have also found.

        Either you have the vehicle in autopilot mode where you, the human operator can trust the machine to get most of the decisions right and only ask you for help every so often, or you put the human in command with only a limited amount of help from the machine.

        What you don't do is take away the need for human input, but ask the human to pay attention to the autopilot whilst not actually doing anything. Human attention wanders fairly quickly if there's nothing to actually do, and when the need to do something arises, humans are truly crap at switching from daydreaming to actively sorting out a problem.

        Really, the bulk of research in self-driving vehicles ought to be working out how to take advantage of the superhuman reaction times of the robot in an emergency scenario, and make vehicles react more safely in emergency situations; thought also should be given to making cars react so that they do not get into emergency situations quite so easily.

        1. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: "a driver can easily override Autopilot at any time [..] and should always be prepared to do so"

          "trust the machine to get most of the decisions right and only ask you for help every so often"

          That's still not good. You have to pry yourself away from your session of digital diddling, figure out what the car is whinging about and then pick a course of action. There might not be the time to sort all of that out before the big tree has pushed the dash into your chest. The system needs to work to many 9's so it's better than a human or there is no point in having it.

          I'd love to have a car that I navigate to the motorway, enter the controlled lane and have a nap until I'm 5 miles or so from my off ramp. That might not be too hard of a task, but there have to be safety systems that make sure the lane is not blocked in some way and there are holding areas so if you don't wake up when you need to take over, the car will pull off and stop until you can verify that you are awake and alert. Maybe you have to take a maths quiz. Most people need practice in maths so it doubly good. There is still the problem of a lorry peeling a tread that winds up in your lane or some other debris, even an accident going over the median, that would be a rude awakening if you were on auto and zoned out.

    2. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: "a driver can easily override Autopilot at any time [..] and should always be prepared to do so"

      Given that they say it at every opportunity, mention it when you start autopilot, bong and alert if you don't at least let the car know you are there every few seconds...

      When else do you think they should be saying this?

      1. ragnar

        Re: "a driver can easily override Autopilot at any time [..] and should always be prepared to do so"

        They should stop calling it "full self driving" for one thing, as Musk recently tweeted.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "a driver can easily override Autopilot at any time [..] and should always be prepared to do so"

          I don't believe he has ever called it full self-driving. There is an option for full-self driving capable hardware but the software to do it has never been released to the general public.

          1. DougS Silver badge

            Re: "a driver can easily override Autopilot at any time [..] and should always be prepared to do so"

            Its just another Musk lie. He claimed the cars had all the hardware needed for full self driving back in 2016, and had to backtrack on the promise that those cars would eventually be upgraded to full self driving via software. Willing to bet the same is true for today's cars.

      2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        @ John Robson

        First of all, they should bite the bullet and stop calling it Autopilot. People have died for believing that it actually is an autopilot. It is not, it is a sophisticated cruise control.

        So name it Ultra Cruise Control, or Tesla Control, or something, anything that does not say autopilot.

        If you want the message to pass, you have to be coherent. This is not a coherent situation.

        1. Valerion

          Re: @ John Robson

          Autopilot sounds correct though.

          On a plane, Autopilot is used to keep the plane following a particular heading. It's not a system to taxi the plane out onto the runway, take off, climb to correct altitude, follow the headings, descend, and then land and park up at a gate. It just does the job of keeping it going the correct way mid-flight.

          Tesla's is the same, really.

          1. Orv Silver badge

            Re: @ John Robson

            That is what pilots know autopilot does; it's not what laypeople assume it does. Tesla is not marketing to pilots.

            Also, autopilot on a plane is in a very different situation because it doesn't have to perform any avoidance of other objects; it's assumed that will be accomplished by traffic control and the planned route. Even so, there have been accidents caused when autopilots suddenly disconnected and the pilots couldn't get back "into the loop" fast enough -- usually because of some failure, or because the plane was not configured how they thought it was.

            Consider: In cruise flight in an airliner you're nearly always at least 5 miles away from the nearest stationary object. Even at 500 mph that gives you a minimum of 30 seconds of reaction time. Cars are often in situations where at best one or two seconds are available.

          2. usbac

            Re: @ John Robson

            As a pilot, I don't know why you were down-voted. While some very advanced autopilot systems can land an aircraft, It's not that common for the autopilot to fly all the way to touchdown. Pilots do use the autopilot to fly the approach most of the time, but usually not all the way down.

            I'm not sure I've ever seen an autopilot used for takeoff (outside of some drones, but even they are piloted remotely)? Most aircraft have a minimum height (above ground) where the autopilot can be activated. Usually about 400ft AGL.

            While I've seen some demos of autopilots used for taxing, they were done under very controlled conditions. Kind of like the so-called self driving cars; limited areas with good roads and surveyed maps. The demos where "see, we can do this now..." without mentioning that it's only at this one airport, and only if there is little other traffic.

            1. TechnicalBen Silver badge

              Re: @ John Robson

              Because you don't get traffic cones in the air. "Autopilot" for the ground is "cruise control" or "lane handling", but the term when applied to cars is far to blurred, compared to the clear understanding with aircraft (or even marine craft!).

            2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: @ John Robson

              "It's not that common for the autopilot to fly all the way to touchdown."

              True, but the conversation is about the public perception. That public perception is that aircraft are capable of taking off, flying to destination and landing, all on "autopilot". That's what we see in news stories etc. Many journalists are lazy, of course and report only part of the truth. (El Reg jouros excepted, of course. Well, usually. Unless it's Friday and it's pub'o'clock.)

            3. Stork Bronze badge

              Re: @ John Robson

              That is fair enough. Only engage the Tesla autopilot when at least 400ft above ground.

              1. TRT Silver badge

                Re: @ John Robson

                Don't worry! We have a crack team of engineers on the way to sort this... from Boeing.

            4. MachDiamond Silver badge

              Re: @ John Robson

              Most pilots want to land the aircraft. If they see a runway incursion, there's wind sheer or something else happens, they can react immediately to pull up and go around. An autopilot isn't likely to see a lot of that. Take offs are another dangerous time where lots of things can go wrong. Once the plane is headed to the first nav point, it's easy for the pilot to input altitude changes as ATC bumps them up to their cruise altitude. From there, it's usually a pretty straight flight unless they want to skirt around big thunder clouds.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @ John Robson

          It is probably more advanced than an autopilot. Most autopilot is not capable of detecting objects or encroaching aircraft and, usually, the Tesla does. Luckily there is less to hit and more time to react in the air than on the ground.

          1. MachDiamond Silver badge

            Re: @ John Robson

            "Most autopilot is not capable of detecting objects or encroaching aircraft"

            Most all commercial planes have RADAR and ADS-B is becoming more common. ADS-B broadcasts an aircraft's position, heading and speed that other aircraft and ground stations can pick up. That information could be used to avoid collisions. Planes flying IFR are being controlled from the ground normally and the autopilot keeps the plane flying as efficiently as possible. It unusual that two planes in class A airspace would be able to collide.

        3. mildy bemused

          Re: @ John Robson

          How about the Tesla Overlord Musk cruise control? Too long? Shorten it to the TOM Cruise control.

        4. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: @ John Robson

          Well maybe the US should stop calling them automobiles...

          And we should stop selling automatic washing machines...

          Auto pilot is a feature, sold and described to its users. The fact that it has an appropriate name that is grossly misunderstood by a proportion of the public is irrelevant.

          The fact that people buy it, then ignore it's capabilities and go and do something else in the car instead is not a Tesla problem, it's a driver problem - and all the more evidence we need to get the nut behind the wheel out of the loop as fast as possible

          1. Orv Silver badge

            Re: @ John Robson

            "auto" - self

            "mobile" - capable of motion

            Sounds fine.

            "auto" - self

            "pilot" - to steer or direct

            Hmm.

          2. Carpet Deal 'em

            Re: @ John Robson

            > "The fact that it has an appropriate name that is grossly misunderstood by a proportion of the public is irrelevant."

            In this instance, the true capabilities of airline autopilots are what's irrelevant: people ascribe a certain notion to the term and Tesla knowingly exploited it.

        5. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: @ John Robson

          Another upside to renaming Autopilot to something more appropriate is they can trademark the new name. Microsoft had to change the official name of their OS to "Microsoft Windows" as "Windows" could not be trademarked since it's a common word. "Tesla Control" or Tesla Streetaware" could be trademarked.

      3. TRT Silver badge

        Re: "full self-driving..."

        Sounds sort of familiar

      4. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "a driver can easily override Autopilot at any time [..] and should always be prepared to do so"

        [bong alert]

        The only alert I want to hear from my automobile is the growl of the climate-destroyer V8. Approx 1800 rpm @ 140 kph. Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel. Guess I'm old.

        1. ICPurvis47
          Gimp

          Re: Growl of a V8, was "a driver can easily override Autopilot at any time "

          Hear Hear! I am a V8 junkie, my latest is a Classic Range Rover, the second one I have owned. Before that, some time ago, I owned a 59 Chevrolet "Gull Wing" station wagon (283 cu. in.). I was under the hood (bonnet) one day in the college car park, tinkering with the carbs, and when I walked to the back of the car to get some tools out, I found a college mate lying flat on his back on the grass with his head by the tow hitch, equidistant between the two exhaust pipes, and a beatific smile on his face. "Rev it up again" he said, so I did.

  6. Kevin Johnston

    Stickers?

    Would the 'over-banding' often used on repairs look like those magic stickers? Seems as though there is a bit much reliance on a clean road surface and the comment about being ready to take control only works if the 'time to crash' is greater than your reaction time.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: Stickers?

      If you read the road signs, then you're bound to fall foul. For example there's a spot on the A1 at the junction of Tollington Road and Camden Road, where the signage is perfectly OK to a rational, thinking person who understands that the people who put the signs up make mistakes, and that can process the conflicting information, but when you sit down and analyse what the signs are ACTUALLY telling you, all northbound traffic is directed left onto Camden Road by the proceed left (sign 606) on the central reservation and on the left hand kerb and some of that traffic is then directed onto the wide pavement, because they have to keep left (sign 610) of the low level bollard on the far pavement.

      And rinse and repeat across hundreds of junctions nationwide where they didn't get it right. The very worst road sign of all is 611. They use that all over the place to mean "Routes pass either side of this divider", whereas it actually means, "Pass either side to REACH THE SAME DESTINATION", i.e. it should not be used on a diverging route, only on, e.g. the ends of an island between lanes of a multi-lane one-way road. The correct sign to use in that instance is a plain faced bollard, illuminated or retroreflective. Thankfully, an autopilot shouldn't be using sign 611 for route information, as the correct lane to be in is usually included in the data from another source. The issue comes where the programmed route information conflicts with the signage, as it would do on the A1 example. I expect in this case the green arrow plus the sat nav data would override the signage instruction, but green arrows don't show all the time!

    2. Mog_X

      Re: Stickers?

      I can see this becoming much worse when the proposed speed limiters come in in 2022 - a few '20' stickers placed over selected signs that show a much higher speed is going to cause unexpected braking with all the 'fun' that could cause (especially for those behind who didn't have a limiter).

      1. TRT Silver badge

        Re: Stickers?

        The "20's plenty" campaign posters on the sides of bus stops? All the banners proclaiming "Islington -proud to be a 20 borough"?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Enforcement of 20mph on vehicles

          I think it'll be very interesting to see whether they actually apply the enforcement of *20mph* zones in-car. My take is that they are so universally exceeded that if they were enforced robustly (either by in-car electronics or by police) they'd be a backlash against them.

          I'm very much for safer driving, and a self-critical approach to one's own driving, but in the real world, in the majority of cases, I don't believe 20 zones are helpful. And by being universally ignored, they make a mockery of the law (and the rule of law).

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Enforcement of 20mph on vehicles

            Round my parts, the council did a consultation on applying 20mph speed limits on all residential roads. During the consultation the Police said they wouldn't be enforcing the speed limit.

            1. JassMan Silver badge

              Re: Enforcement of 20mph on vehicles

              I can't see the point of 20 zones. They claim to be environmetal zones but I find that I use 50% more fuel at 20 in second than at 30 in third. Also there several hills round north london which use 0 fuel if you descend in 2nd gear but the slope means that engine braking runs at 30. You either have to use the brakes or drop back to first and use fuel to run at 20. Both are environmentally unfriendly as asbestos brake dust is more dangerous than CO2 and NOx.

              1. Wellyboot Silver badge

                Re: Enforcement of 20mph on vehicles

                Councils / Police - must be seen to be doing something, preferably with the added ability to collect cash. 20mph zones can be seen

                Extra CO2, NOX, soot or brakedust (Asbestos in brakes was banned in 1999) is of no cash benefit and therefore no interest (yet).

                1. TRT Silver badge

                  Re: Enforcement of 20mph on vehicles

                  A study by Imperial college in 2015 found that emissions and fuel consumption was higher for petrol engined cars driving round a 20 zone than round an equivalent 30 zone. The reverse was true for diesels, however.

        2. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

          Re: "20's plenty"

          So long as the campaign is not run alongside a Don't Drink and Drive campaign.

        3. Stork Bronze badge

          Re: Stickers?

          In Switzerland they enforce that sort of thing. I got a ticket for doing 31 km/h. Ok, I probably was at 36, and the fine was 40 franc,.

  7. Rudolph Hucker the Third

    Err, just wondering, how does a Tesla on autopilot respond to potholes in the road?

    Is it the same as with these stickers?

    With what passes for "normal road conditions" in this part of the world, not sure a Tesla would last very long(?)

    1. Valerion

      I was thinking the same. If it's fooled by a couple of small stickers, god knows what it'd make of the network of potholes, loosely linked with small bits of tarmac, that make up my local roads.

    2. werdsmith Silver badge
    3. vtcodger Silver badge

      "Normal Road Conditions"

      I'd worry about how neural network based guidance systems respond to blowing snow, sand, trash, leaves, etc. They usually don't look like lane markers to me, but to a computer? Then there's the issue of lane markers being erased by repeated application of snow, rain, road salt, sand/grit, freeze/thaw and scrubbing by rubber tires. By spring here in New England, I sometimes have trouble recognizing lane and road center markers. And I sort of know where they used to be.

      ===========================

      I have not heard it suggested that a neural network could be induced to implement, for example, Boston's "Vehicle with the least to lose in a collision has the right of way" driving practices. Seems well beyond the current state of the art to me. But I suppose all things are possible .. eventually

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: "Normal Road Conditions"

        "Then there's the issue of lane markers being erased by repeated application of snow, rain, road salt, sand/grit, freeze/thaw and scrubbing by rubber tires. "

        You should try Las Vegas in summer when the asphalt softens and car tires pick it up and coat the road markings. You have to detect the marking by a textural difference in the road surface which is very low contrast.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Err, just wondering, how does a Tesla on autopilot respond to potholes in the road?"

      You should really only be using Tesla cruise control on motorways or major trunk roads. Not sure about where you live, but I rarely, if ever, see potholes on those sorts of roads across most of the north of England.

      (not that I could afford a Tesla anyway, even if I wanted one)

  8. Dr Scrum Master

    A new kind of annoying

    The sounds effects on that video was certainly a new kind of annoying...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A new kind of annoying

      Interesting, I found it rather amusing but I may have been to HK too often. As clips go, it was quite OK.

  9. S4qFBxkFFg

    Is anyone else thinking of that Bond film (Pierce Brosnan, BMW) where he's driving the car from the back seat, using his phone?

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Not really, that actually had short enough response time to allow decent control. This seems to have about a second delay between input and the car responding. Good enough to thoroughly crash a vehicle, terrible for driving it while getting shot at by angry baddies.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        Not really, that actually had short enough response time to allow decent control.

        That was more or less inevitable given that it was entirely fictional :).

  10. Simon B-52

    TLDR

    It's still called "Autopilot".

    The stoned submariner still says it's fully self-driving - I didn't realise that "into oncoming traffic" still counts.

    It's so cool it can help you and innocent bystanders take the room temperature challenge in new and unexpected ways.

    What's not to like? Come on Fanbois, I'm waiting for your downvotes.

  11. N2 Silver badge
    Stop

    Can you go to the pub and get shitfaced?

    Otherwise, these things serve no purpose, other than to line the pockets of techno companies and shareholders & I for one won't be following the sheep.

    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: Can you go to the pub and get shitfaced?

      Well I for one have been using some self-driving car tech (not Tesla) and it is making longer journeys a lot less tiring. Especially those 50 limit motorway roadworks that go on for ever. It's a godsend.

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Can you go to the pub and get shitfaced?

      A work friend of mine had a pony and trap and she and her husband frequently woke up in their stable having been taken 5 miles home from an absolutely cracking pub by the pony.

      1. dajames Silver badge

        Re: Can you go to the pub and get shitfaced?

        A work friend of mine had a pony and trap and she and her husband frequently woke up in their stable having been taken 5 miles home from an absolutely cracking pub by the pony.

        Which nicely demonstrates that the AI in a Tesla, or similar, is dumber than a pony.

        It's nice to have some sort of scale for these things ...

        1. Sherrie Ludwig

          Re: Can you go to the pub and get shitfaced?

          Which nicely demonstrates that the AI in a Tesla, or similar, is dumber than a pony.

          Many so-called human drivers are dumber than a good Welsh pony.

  12. Trollslayer Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Not a surprise

    I had a job for six years that involved looking at incident (Hillsborough, King's Cross etc.) and so many like that happened because of "It's OK", "Too expensive", "Takes too long" etc.

    Even now the self serving "£%$"£$^^$& that cause this kind of thing make me angry.

  13. Red Ted
    FAIL

    ECU hack sound like the Jeep one a few years ago

    Manipulating the infotaiment system to obtain access to the ECU: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2015/07/21/jeep_patch/

    If this could have been controlled over the cellular network (3G is mentioned in the article) then it could have been a completely remote attack. Send the mark a crafted email to follow a malicious link, they click on it whilst in the car and it then exploits the infotainment system to talk to the ECU and provide a connection back to the attacker?

    1. MachDiamond Silver badge

      Re: ECU hack sound like the Jeep one a few years ago

      It would be interesting to hear about a botnet that targeted cars to do Coin mining. Something like that could rob enough processing power to slow down a nav system but not so much that the infotainment system wouldn't function when Nav isn't in operation.

  14. Duffy Moon

    Tesla fanbois

    Tesla seems to attract the same blind devotion as Apple. I see so many people on Twitter praising them like they're a quantum leap in people-moving technology, when they're unaffordable by most and, from what I have heard, the least reliable cars on the road (which is bizarre considering how few moving parts they have compared to ICE cars).

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Tesla fanbois

      Tesla's role is to show other car companies "see? It can be done." Once other car companies bring in their superior ability to scale production, and higher quality control standards, Tesla will either have to transform back into a small-volume boutique make (a la Ferrari) or go under.

      The Chevy Bolt is a good example; it's got similar range to a Tesla, costs less than all but the cheapest, most unobtainable version of the Model 3, and comes with a dealer service network and door handles that still work when it's cold out.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Tesla fanbois

        No one doubted it could be done. Electric cars are over a century old, after all. The question was whether it could be at a profit, which is what car companies care about. Tesla has yet to turn a consistent profit, and would need to be very profitable for a very long time to become profitable during the whole time they've operated.

        The reason traditional car companies waited to do electrics wasn't because they needed stoner Musk to show them it could be done. They were waiting until they felt they could make money. Now that Tesla has filled all the orders for the higher priced model 3s and has to start filling the $35K orders, they may have to keep waiting for a profit - in the last few months they've gone from saying they will be profitable from now on, to maybe a small loss this quarter, to definitely a loss this quarter. Profitability for them is always promised to be just around the corner.

        1. vtcodger Silver badge

          Re: Tesla fanbois

          The Tesla fanbois surely have vision. But I think the optics are flawed. I think that in a few decades, there will be a billion or three electric vehicles on the world's roads. But the nameplates on most won't say Tesla (or Ford or Toyota). And they mostly won't be expensive electric sports cars or electrified versions of today's conventional cars. Mostly the nameplates will say Kung Pao Motors or some such and the vehicles will be glorified golf carts with a top speed of maybe 75 kph and a range of maybe 50 km. Their safety may be a bit iffy. In the developed world they will be used as a second car for shopping or short commutes. In developing countries, they will somehow be used for everything. Their attraction? They will be CHEAP to buy and CHEAP to own.

          1. Orv Silver badge

            Re: Tesla fanbois

            We already have those -- they're called Neighborhood Electric Vehicles. They aren't very popular, except as maintenance vehicles on college campuses and the like.

        2. MachDiamond Silver badge

          Re: Tesla fanbois

          "The reason traditional car companies waited to do electrics wasn't because they needed stoner Musk to show them it could be done. They were waiting until they felt they could make money."

          "You can't railroad until it's time to railroad" ~Can't remember which author penned that.

          DIY EVs have been around for quite some time, but loading the bed of a pickup with lead acid batteries to get 40 miles of range wasn't a good solution. Things starting heating up with Li and NiMh cell prices started dropping to the point where it was just mad and not totally insane to put them in an electric car. The prices dropped some more and "mad" went down to "a bit nuts". Tesla got into the game when one off cars like AC Propulsion's T-Zero showed what an EV could be. GM's EV1 was a good foray, but it was too expensive and only worth it as a hedge against a pending California law that would have required auto makers to have a certain percentage or zero emission car sales to be able to sell cars in California. Politicians were bought off, the law repealed and GM pulled the leased EV1's back to the barn for crushing to preserve their IP that they'd spent millions on and didn't want to show the competition.

          Tesla has been a good company to break trail for the other manufacturers. Lots of questions are being answered about charging, optimum ranges, pricing, etc. Munro is analyzing Tesla offerings down to the last bolt and selling the data to anybody with a stack of cash to hand. What they are doing right and what they are doing wrong. Not making the same mistakes can be a bigger money saver than knowing what does work. Tesla also release tidbits such as over 90% of people do their charging of Tesla's at home. That tells other makers that it might be a waste of money to build their own charging network. It's probably better to invest in third party companies that are installing chargers and insist on covering certain areas with a certain number and type of charger so sales of EV models in those areas will be easier. You don't see BMW coming up with their own fuel and selling it at BMW petrol stations so why should they build their own charging network to dispense bog standard electrons?

          The flood gates are opening on EVs. I just test drove a Hyundai Kona EV and it's very nice. There is very little about it that marks it from it's petrol brother in looks and operation. I just belted up, switched into drive and drove it like any other car. I didn't need a driving course, just a couple of tips from the salesman on what to expect and to not try to floor it. Even Ford has announced the venerable V-8 F150 will be electrified and for sale in a couple of years. I expect they won't be discontinuing the ICE versions anytime soon.

  15. elgarak1

    "swerving across lanes into oncoming traffic"

    Newsflash: In the fine print, Tesla themselves say that one should not use the autopilot on a road with oncoming traffic. It is designed, and rated, for interstate (or here in Germany, Autobahn) where you have multiple lanes in one direction, and a big physical divider to the lanes with oncoming traffic.

    The problem – and that might be a big problem – is that Tesla does not say it too loud, and that people successfully (i.e., without incident, collision, and be able to walk away from alive) use it in situations that Tesla does not recommend, and that regulatory bodies do not allow, but Tesla nevertheless let them be heard for good advertising. And, as said, the name "autopilot" is misleading... but then, Tesla is a newcomer, and I can understand why they and Musk feel that need to beat drums.

    1. Orv Silver badge

      And there are many, many major highways in the US that aren't divided, or that switch back and forth between divided and undivided. This is very, very common on old "US routes" like US-2 and US-101, many of which were never completely converted to freeway outside of urban areas. Not coincidentally these are also often places where the lane markings are not repainted as frequently as one might hope.

  16. DryBones

    Called it

    https://forums.theregister.co.uk/forum/all/2018/06/07/tesla_crash_report/#c_3538567

    They're weighting lane markers more than anything else, not finding road edges, etc.

  17. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Post It Notes

    Presumably the car will prang into the nearest such post when finding one of these in its travels.

  18. Tom 7 Silver badge

    As a kid one of the local villages had a road that turned sharp right

    but the white line down the middle of the road carried straight on about 2' further on than it should have. It was only the fact that the house on the other side of the turn had 3' thick stone walls meant it won battles even with large lorries and other vehicles that felt the white line was more to be believed than several hundred tons of house.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Stickers on road to incite a crash?

    Was Dr. W. E. Coyote one of the primary researchers on this one?

  20. Timmy B Silver badge

    Pointless story really....

    Why does the reg seemingly delight in reports of things that in some cases were fixed well over a year ago?

    1. Lee D Silver badge

      Re: Pointless story really....

      Because you don't get single bugs. You get classes of bugs, entire categories of them.

      And the bugs that you're vulnerable to reveal your underlying design.

      Microsoft have fixed "buffer overflows that can give you full system access" any number of times, and for decades. They still appear. Because the design of the OS allows that to happen.

      As such, Tesla have shown that these systems are linked - everything from the web browser to the steering - and any bug, any bug at all, that can be found can punch a hole through from one system to the other because the design allows it to do so.

      You don't ever "fix" bugs. You fix *A* bug. The next bug will be waiting for you, if not in the same damn line of code then the one next to it.

      The class of bugs exposed - simple overflows giving access to the core functions of the Autopilot - is the worry. And that doesn't matter that they patched ONE such bug.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    paint on the road

    I often see spilt paint on the road, what would the system do in this instance?

  22. Mike 137

    Having read the original report

    This is quite interesting but not unexpected considering the number of previously published studies about fooling neural nets with visual artefacts. However, judged as a piece of research, this paper is appalling. It provides nothing other than broad anecdotal mention of the techniques used for the real world tests, the photos (the only concrete evidential material) are unclear and the accompanying descriptions are vague, the experimental methods are not explained, and no objective evidence is provided in support of the ostensible findings. On top of which, the authors are not identified.

    Altogether not a very sound piece of science. On top of which, El Reg has hyped the findings into a click bait shock horror story, but if you read the original carefully, its findings are actually quite tentative.

  23. MrXavia

    Should we be scared?

    Yes we should be a little bit scared, because the EU is mandating lane keeping technology in every car, this means people will get complacent, they won't react and there will be crashes.

  24. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    Spelling error...

    "Neural networks might be flashy and cool, but they're terribly >insecure<"

    You spelled 'stupid' incorrectly where indicated above.

  25. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    A more interesting study might be how the Tesla interprets the squished bodies of people hit by trucks while dicking about on the highway with fistfuls of stickers.

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