New Regulations Pave the Way for Self Driving Cars on the Road

The development of self-driving cars promises to offer consumers an exciting future, now, regulators in the sprawling metropolis known as California have published draft proposals aimed at paving the way for consumers to legally use self-driving cars on the road.

Included within the recommendations from the Department of Motor Vehicles is the stipulation that a fully licensed human driver must be present behind the wheel in case the technology fails or decides to drive into the nearest hedge. I understand the fully licensed bit, but I would have thought the whole point of a self-driving car is for people to easily travel from A – B in the car. The new regulations also stipulate that users must undergo “special training” and manufacturers must monitor the cars use.

Technology giant Google has experimented to the point whereby a vehicle does not even need a steering wheel or pedals, this sounds impressive, albeit slightly dangerous, for the foreseeable future at least. So much so that the DMV recommends all self-driving vehicles to be equipped with traditional controls. The draft regulations also provide requirements for self-driving cars to be protected from cyber attacks; it will be interesting to see how manufacturers respond to this considering very little is immune from hacks in the digital age.

Many fans and experts alike envisage a future whereby a driving licence is obsolete and even non-drivers are able to metaphorically drive, sounds good until you factor in the many issues including longer traffic jams as more people are able to use a vehicle, only time will tell as to the path with which this new breed of tech will follow.

Image courtesy of marketinginautomotive

Car Manufacturers Plan to Prohibit Home Mechanics from Tinkering

Car manufacturers are supporting new changes in copyright law that could stop home mechanics and car enthusiasts from repairing and modifying their own vehicles.

A federal agency has had several comments filed with it that may determine if tinkering with a car could become a copyright violation. Every three years the US copyright office holds a meeting on whether certain activities should be exempt from the law that governs technological measures that protect copyrighted work. To prevent all changes to cars being blocked the Electronic Frontier Foundation have asked the government to allow changes to the necessary car components such as headlights, wiper blades etc.

Many auto makers have expressed concern that allowing 3rd parties to access the Electrical Control Units in their cars could be potentially fatal. The ECU controls vital functions such as throttle input, braking and steering, however incorrect changes may affect these functions or worse, stop them completely. The industries have also expressed concern that modifying the computers could lead to security vulnerabilities and issues with cyber security.

After-market suppliers and home enthusiasts have been changing ECU’s for several years without serious consequences. This was done in a process commonly known as chipping. Changes to the code have been able to increase horsepower, increase fuel efficiency and enhance countless other features.

For the main part, manufacturers say they’re more concerned about potential money loss rather than new money streams. Tinkering with the computer can void the cars warranty but the auto makers remain concerned if the changes could result in physical or financial harm. They noted that some mechanics manipulate odometers and make cars appear that they have less miles on them, a serious problem for used car buyers.

What are your thoughts on this? Let us know in the comments below.

Thank you to AutoBlog for this information

Image courtesy of Munic.io

NSA Reportedly Can Bug Computers Before They Reach Buyers

Apparently the NSA does not have to wait until people are using technology to start snooping on it. Spiegel has obtained documents which claim that the agency’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) group can intercept computer equipment orders and install tracking hardware or software before the shipments even reach their buyers. The division can target a wide array of hardware, too. Another NSA section, ANT, reportedly has a catalog of tools that can install back doors in everything from Cisco and Huawei network systems through to hard drives from most major manufacturers, including Seagate and Western Digital. Some of these bugs can give the NSA “permanent” access, since they’re designed to persist if the owner wipes a device’s storage or upgrades its firmware.

The leak suggests that the targeted manufacturers aren’t aware of what’s happening; Cisco and other firms tell Spiegel they don’t coordinate with the NSA. These hardware interceptions are also limited in scope next to remote surveillance programs. The agency isn’t confirming any specifics, but it maintains that TAO is focused on exploiting foreign networks. Whether or not that’s true, the discoveries show that the NSA’s surveillance can reach the deepest levels of many networks.

Thank you Endgadget for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Spiegel