Let's face it, autonomous cars aren't coming; they're already here. From Google's continual testing to promises from Nissan and Mercedes-Benz that the tech is on the way, the only direction that driverless vehicles are moving is forward. Although, we're already seeing the first joking jabs about the potential misuse of the cutting-edge systems like in Conan O'Brien's recent parody, and even the FBI is taking the possibility for abuse seriously.

The Guardian in Britain recently gained access to an unclassified report from the FBI that basically brainstorms potentially nefarious uses for the tech. The government agency has dreamed up all sorts of nightmare scenarios about how criminals might exploit cars no longer needing a driver. Many of them wouldn't even be possible given the current technological limits. Driverless vehicles "will have a high impact on transforming what both law enforcement and its adversaries can operationally do with a car," according to the report.

Among the FBI's biggest fears is simply that autonomous vehicles will allow drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel and not pay attention to the road. Imagine a high-speed chase where a criminal flips a switch into auto mode and can freely turn around and shoot at police. Furthermore, the agency worries that with some hacking, a driverless car could become a fantastic weapon. A terrorist could load one up with a bomb and send the model on its way with on one inside.

Hands-free driving is a double-edged sword, though, and the report also foresees autonomous cars making surveillance easier. Law enforcement officers could more easily tail a specific vehicle from farther away, and they would be unencumbered to take photos or video.

Obviously, we are still some years away from any of these fears becoming a reality. At the moment, truly autonomous vehicles are still in limited testing on public roads and can't even do some of the things that the FBI suggests. That's not keeping law enforcement from trying to stay one step ahead of the bad guys, though.


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  • 50 Comments
      Thipps
      • 11 Months Ago
      I fear the government tracking me more than a hacker.......
        Joeviocoe
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Thipps
        Historically though... corporations track more people than governments. In fact, governments already know that it is far easier to subpoena corporations for private info than to collect it themselves. Furthermore... you volunteer more private information than governments even need to track you.
          Joeviocoe
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          @ Levine Levine --"it can conjure some conspiracy or crime to justify your arrest." That is certainly the fear... but that rarely actually happens. It is more often the excuse of criminals too... that the evidence was "conjured" by some conspiracy. Meanwhile... Identity theft is happening rampantly to millions of people... credit is being lost, and people are facing real problems (despite being completely lawful). This is because corporations (like Target and the hundreds of other cases)... do not protect their customer's data as they should. You are FAR more likely to have your identity stolen than be the victim of a government conspiracy against you.
          Levine Levine
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Joeviocoe: You failed to understand the difference between corporation and government. When the government collects data on you, it can conjure some conspiracy or crime to justify your arrest. The police can bust down your door; intimidate you, arrest you, or issue fines. Corporation can't invade your privacy, intimidate, arrest or fine you.
      MBento
      • 11 Months Ago
      A car that drives that carefully doesn't pose much o threat, does it? Human drivers are a much bigger danger!
        Joeviocoe
        • 11 Months Ago
        @MBento
        Yep... it is the FBI's job to think about terrorism... but by far, the largest source of death... is by accidents.
      cpmanx
      • 11 Months Ago
      FBI tries to stir up fears to justify its budget. Autoblog tries to stir up fears to juice up its clicks. Nice synergy. Every new technology brings new problems with it (cars provide better getaways than horses, etc), but these concerns sound particularly ludicrous. You could buy a little radio-controlled car *right now* and use it to deliver an exploding vial of anthrax. Or here's a shocking scenario: What if you have *two* people in a normal, non-autonomous getaway car, so one is free to shoot? Isn't that just as serious a danger?
      2 wheeled menace
      • 11 Months Ago
      Of course they would theorize this. Our federal government loves using drones to carry out acts of war, so of course they are in the mindframe of thinking that 'someone else' may do the same thing ( in reality, they would love to exploit the technology themselves )
      jebibudala
      • 11 Months Ago
      FBI is worried about autonomous cars far into the future. FBI is not a bit concerned about rapists and murders crossing borders illegally now.
        Joeviocoe
        • 11 Months Ago
        @jebibudala
        99.9% of the rapists and murderers in the US.... are citizens. So maybe we should stop and think about this "immigration crisis" that is being manufactured in media.
          Levine Levine
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Of the nearly 20 million illegals sneaked in USA since Amnesty I, none are medical doctors, PhD physicist, pharmacist, nurses, chemist, rocket scientist, computer scientist, CPA, etc. They are the poor, low-skill, no-skill, low-IQ, fugitive, criminals, narcotic pushers, and desperados.
      Hajime1990 #follow
      • 11 Months Ago
      so who s going to take care if someone gets hit by a driverless car? not the insurance company for sure. see? you don t even need a terrorist for the worst thing to happen.
        Larry Litmanen
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Hajime1990 #follow
        That topic has been discussed to DEATH. Who pays if one ship slams into another? Ships are GPS guided these days, they are basically self driving. You still need to have insurance.
      Arizonarelax
      • 11 Months Ago
      All about government control.... I want to be the first to hear arguments when two autonomous vehicles crash. A new bread of ambulance chaser is about to born. America needs to wake up, your freedom on the open road is rapidly becoming a thing of the past. In six years sheepeople are now in control. WOW! FYI my comments are not a party thing, it is an American survival thing.
        Joeviocoe
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Arizonarelax
        @ Arizonarelax --"your freedom on the open road" ... which was always an illusion. There are no "Open Roads"... there are "Public Roads". The government built them with our tax money... and they regulate everything on them. You require a licence to drive on every public road. Every vehicle requires a registration and every automaker must meet strict safety and emissions standards. There cannot be a loss of freedom you never really had.
      lmg
      • 11 Months Ago
      the FBI is right... all cars should be illegal! i love our goverment
      Levine Levine
      • 11 Months Ago
      FBI people is definitely not the sharpest knife in the drawer. An autonomous car relies on a dozen sensors to feed several on-board computers. You can blind the sensors with lasers or destroy the computers with a shot of electro-magnetic energy. In either instance, the autonomous vehicle will come to a halt. Human drivers are still the best guidance system for a land based suicide vehicle. The Middle East has born that fact. In the future when autonomous vehicles become passé, the FBI , weary of bombers, should be on the look-out for manned vehicle.
      goodoldgorr
      • 11 Months Ago
      IT take a steering wheel and pedal because you have to park the car and I think that this system won't be able to park the car, especially if you park into the street where it isn't always the same spot pr you want to choose another parking spot. Also if you go shooping you have to park the car and you improvise and search a parking spot. Also if you want to stop for putting gas or recharging then you got to take the steering wheel and do it yourself.
        goodoldgorr
        • 11 Months Ago
        @goodoldgorr
        I won't buy a car that do not have conventional manual control.
          Joeviocoe
          • 11 Months Ago
          @goodoldgorr
          You won't live forever... and the next generation (the folks likely to buy cars in 2035)... will have a different attitude. They would have been raised on iPads anyway.
      knightrider_6
      • 11 Months Ago
      I'm more worried about FBI and NSA hacking and misusing these cars.
        AcidTonic
        • 11 Months Ago
        @knightrider_6
        This. It's not the kids.... wait until a revolution starts and the first thing they do is shutdown all cars using a kill switch.
          Joeviocoe
          • 11 Months Ago
          @AcidTonic
          Same "kill switch" was said about the Internet. But they never built in a "kill switch" because they entire purpose of the internet was to be decentralized in case of Soviet nuclear strike. So any "kill switch" could just as likely be hijacked by an enemy which would render our economic infrastructure destroyed.... which is why they will never include a "kill switch".
      DrSandman
      • 11 Months Ago
      "Duh! Shhhhhh!" -- said every criminal and terrorist on earth.
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