Driverless Cars and Graffiti


As the quest for driverless cars continues, there could be a new obstacle in the road.

While carmakers have been working on what to do if a driverless car is hacked, it seems there they're also facing a less high tech threat, graffiti. Researchers at the University of Washington have discovered that vandalism of a street sign can confuse driverless cars and cause a potentially dangerous situation.

In one example graffiti stickers were added to a stop sign so it read love, stop, hate. But the car misread this as a 45 mile per hour speed limit sign. In another example researchers printed a right turn sign with minor color changes and the car read it as a stop sign.

Researchers say this could cause the cars to drive straight through junctions or come to a halt in the middle of the road. They say this is just another obstacle to protect driverless cars from obstacles a human would recognize. Other examples include animals in the road, or a dirty windshield that could affect the camera. Maybe what the driverless car needs, is a driver.