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Alphabet: Waymo Cars Offline to Avoid Hacking, Company Reveals

Jan 13, 2017 04:39 AM EST
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It can come off as strange to anyone who's encountered Google's parent Alphabet's offshoot car company Waymo that its cars are offline. However, there's a good reason for that. It appears Waymo wants to keep its cars offline to prevent them from being hacked.

It can be remembered that self-driving cars can be considered as large computers on wheels. It makes sense that others will be able to hack through them. Which is, of course, leads us to no choice but to either beef up security, or not use anything online at all.

John Krafcik, CEO of Waymo, explained to the Financial Times that they chose the latter option. Its vehicles will only occasionally connect to the Internet, especially if they need to.

He explained this means there won't be a continuous "line" that feeds the car information, which more or less opens it to hacking. 

This shouldn't come off as a big surprise. According to Technology Review, security researchers have demonstrated way back in 2015 that they could remotely hack into the computers on a Jeep Cherokee and disable its brakes while a driver is on the wheel.

These can be alarming incidents as they present an ever-growing danger to the consumers.

According to Technology Review, Waymo is able to take its cars offline because its crucial systems are stored on local computers on the car itself. Since these systems perform just as well as a human driver - that is, they take information on the roadway as much as we do - there's no need to put all the data online.

Technology Review reports some manufacturers like Audi and BMW are also planning for their cars to communicate with each other and "street furniture" such as lights and signals. This allows them to merge lanes smarter and better predict just when to break.

Of course, there are already cars that are connected to the road. Tesla's vehicles are not only self-driving, but are also connected to the Internet. Still, it's safe to be safe because hackers are just as getting resourceful as ever.  

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