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Fall On the Road

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Is there a security risk with self-driving vehicles?

Some people simply cannot wait until the day when autonomous cars become the norm. A few innovators, including Google, have already dipped their toes into the self-driving car market. But the convenience and safety of autonomous cars may be contradicted by the security risks such vehicles pose.

Law enforcement agencies have said that autonomous cars may encourage criminal behavior. Criminals may evade police by changing the programming in self-driving cars to bypass the rules of the road. Having their hands free in an autonomous vehicle may enable criminals to fire weapons or handle other dangerous equipment while the vehicle is in motion, and cars filled with explosives also may be programmed to hit targets.

Autonomous vehicles also may be vulnerable to hackers. Hackers may be able to take over an autonomous vehicle in much the same way they would take control of a computer, tablet or smartphone.

Right now it seems unlikely that the current crop of autonomous cars will be state-of-the-art crime vehicles, seeing as Google's version cannot drive faster than 25 miles per hour. But these concerns are things manufacturers will have to consider before they can offer autonomous vehicles for sale to the general public.