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Researchers Use Lasers to Trick Autonomous Cars

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The researchers used a laser to mimic the LIDAR reflections that the sensor usually receives, which allowed them to delete data for static obstacles, as well as for moving pedestrians.

Credit: goredonkoff/iStock

Researchers at the University of Florida, the University of Michigan, and Japan's University of Electro-Communications used a laser to trick autonomous vehicles' LiDAR systems to remove obstacles and pedestrians from view.

The laser mimicked LiDAR reflections received by the sensor, which made it view genuine reflections from real obstacles as nonexistent.

In test conditions of a laser attack using basic camera tracking software within 15 feet of the autonomous vehicle, the car failed to slow down near a pedestrian.

The researchers said more advanced equipment could enable an attack to be executed from greater distances from the vehicle.

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