Researchers demonstrate how driver-assistance systems can be tricked by low-cost equipment.

CarAndDriver, By Roberto Baldwin

© CarAndDriver | Autopilot and Mobileye Driver-Assist Systems Fooled by a Projector

Researchers in Israel tricked vehicles into braking and swerving by projecting images that vehicles' advanced driver-assist systems interpreted as real.

Both Tesla's and Mobileye's systems were fooled by the researchers.

The experiment is a reminder that drivers need to pay attention to the road while driver-assistance systems are active.

You can't really buy a self-driving car yet. What you can purchase is a vehicle with advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), but fair warning: that advanced technology can be stymied by something as fake as an image projected on the road. Ben-Gurion University researcher Ben Nassi recently fooled a Tesla Model X with hardware version 2.5 via a projector six months after bamboozling a Mobileye 630 Pro driver-assist system. So while active-safety systems are getting smarter, clearly they still can't be trusted to fully comprehend the ingenuity of humans.

Nassi was able to get both the Tesla Model X with Autopilot and the Mobileye system to register projected images. The Mobileye vehicle was tricked into believing the speed limit had changed. In one instance, the new speed limit was flashed only briefly (125 milliseconds) on a digital billboard. That's too quick for a human to notice, but just enough for the car.

The Model X slowed down when a projection of Elon Musk was placed on the road and adjusted its path when a pair of yellow lane lines were displayed in front of the car. In both instances, Nassi showed what the car perceived as it encountered these projected items.

Nassi calls his spoof attack "Phantom of the ADAS."

As Ars Technica pointed out, the ramifications of these projection attacks are that someone could potentially target a car or driver with a projector attached to a drone. They could cause a vehicle to speed up, slam on its brakes, or veer into another lane.

The result could be catastrophic. But it's also a reminder that drivers need to pay attention to the road while their vehicles are using Autopilot and other advanced driver-assist features. The robots aren't quite ready to drive us around yet if a simple projection can fool them.

This article was originally published in CarAndDriver.
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