General Question

LuckyGuy's avatar

Will there be more carjackings when self-driving cars are more common?

Asked by LuckyGuy (43690points) December 5th, 2022

Almost all, (all?), self driving cars and cars with crash avoidance also have pedestrian avoidance, PA, technology that automatically applies the brakes when a pedestrian is in the path of the car.
Will carjackers eventually figure out that they can immobilize a car in traffic by just standing in front and behind it?
I don’t have that feature in my car. If someone, or a group, tries to stop me by standing in my path they will be “unsuccessful” to say the least.
Can the PA function be overridden quickly?

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19 Answers

gorillapaws's avatar

My car has this to some degree. It’s obnoxiously conservative to avoid any possibility of injuring someone when you’re trying to use the “summon mode.” There is no real override.With the enhanced autopilot, you’re always in full control, so you could just stomp the accelerator, override the system and ram into the guy.

When you don’t have a steering wheel or accelerator though in a fully autonomous car, how would you control or override it? I don’t think there’s a way to do so. That said, how would the carjacker control it once he’s forced you out of the vehicle with video footage of the entire incident and GPS coordinates of the car he’s steeling?

I think it’s much scarier to have vehicles designed to engage “homicide-mode” and start murdering perceived threats.

MISPRINT's avatar

It is difficult to predict with certainty how the prevalence of carjackings may change as self-driving cars become more common. However, it is worth considering that self-driving cars may make it more difficult for carjackers to operate, since they rely on human drivers to take control of the vehicle. Additionally, self-driving cars may be equipped with advanced security features that can make them less vulnerable to carjacking attempts. Ultimately, the impact of self-driving cars on carjackings will depend on a variety of factors and will likely be influenced by the measures taken to ensure the security of these vehicles.

ragingloli's avatar

Not sure how it will be with cars, but I can imagine automated delivery robots and drones becoming low level monsters in a video game, which drop loot after being slain by the “players”.

HP's avatar

It stands to reason that car jacking an autonomous car must certainly be a more involved and sophisticated business than the current routine. In fact, even today’s conventional vehicles are capable of being both tracked and disabled remotely. The standard concept of some kid snatching a woman from a car paused at a traffic light, then speeding away—that already is pretty much a bygone concept for recent production high end automobiles. Individual and nowadays unannounced components on cars can feature tracking and disabling devices either you or anyone with the codes can activate with a phone. When it comes to autonomous cars, God only knows how many entities will have the capability to track or disable the things.

gorillapaws's avatar

I’m just picturing a fully-autonomous vehicle with anti-hijacker mode:

You’re sitting in line to pick up your kid from daycare.
“Hey Tesla, call my wife.”
“You’re being hijacked? Alerting authorities and engaging flamethrower countermeasures.”
“No, call my wife!”
“Murdering everything in sight…”

Zaku's avatar

@HP ” When it comes to autonomous cars, God only knows how many entities will have the capability to track or disable the things.”
– Don’t worry, I’m sure every single one of them will only have the highest good for the owner in mind.

elbanditoroso's avatar

Seems like your mobile app would prevent this.

1) Lock all doors
2) Disable engine
3) sound horn

could all be managed from the app.

My guess is that carjacking will go down because it will be so easy to disable a vehicle.

Zaku's avatar

It is also quite easy to make an entirely-uncomputerized car to have a panic button that completely disables the car, and sounds the horn.

But almost no one has such a system installed.

There are always design issues with trade-offs and complications. Is anti-car-jacking the highest design priority? How about the concern that a disabling feature may trigger when unwanted? For example, when someone wants to kidnap or rob you?

Entropy's avatar

I mean, I see what you’re saying, but it’s not like it’s incredibly hard to commit a crime right now. We have prosecutors that don’t prosecute, and some inner city police departments have had a hands-off attitude since Ferguson (though most will deny that is why). So unless you’re really sh—at crime, if you own a gun, you can do crime pretty easily right now with a good expectation that you’re going to get away with it.

So do changes in automated cars move the needle on that? Maybe a bit. But I suspect the effect is SWAMPED by other factors. Remember that automated cars also will have TONS of cameras. So I’m not sure an automated car is the target you want to be going after.

RocketGuy's avatar

@gorillapaws – how about a self driving car that is judgmental?:

JLeslie's avatar

I think all of the technology would make it more difficult. Although, from what I understand a human would be able to override any auto shut-off or any decisions the car would make. Wouldn’t a self-driving vehicle be more likely to be attached to some sort of tracking system?

Interesting Q. I really don’t have a good guess.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Here’s a video testing the 2019 system installed on several cars. A dummy pedestrian is in the center of the lane while the car is traveling at 60 kph, 37 mph.
The Mercedes and Nissan stop in time but the Hyundai Sonata creams him.
Testing by IIHS

Zaku's avatar

@LuckyGuy Nice video. In the second test, the Ford Fusion also obliterates a small child. And in the third tests, a Kia Optima plows through a walking adult.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@Zaku You know they will only get better. Those are 2019 vehicles. Maybe by now a hijacker or “roadrager” will have a higher confidence of success.

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MISPRINT's avatar

Most self-driving cars and cars with crash avoidance technology do have pedestrian avoidance (PA) technology built in, which uses sensors such as cameras and radar to detect pedestrians in the car’s path and automatically applies the brakes to avoid a collision.

As for the potential for carjackers to use this technology to immobilize a car, it is unlikely that this would be a successful tactic for several reasons. First, most PA systems have built-in safety measures to prevent misuse, such as the ability to override the system manually if the driver determines that the detected pedestrian is not a threat. Second, many PA systems are designed to only activate at certain speeds or under specific conditions, so a carjackers would need to be in the right place at the right time in order to immobilize the car. Additionally, the PA system may not always stop the car, it could slow it down and give warning to the driver to take further action, allowing the driver to have control over the car.

In any case, it is important to note that carjacking is a serious crime and should be reported to the police immediately. It is also a good idea for drivers to take precautions such as being aware of their surroundings, avoiding parking in isolated areas, and keeping doors locked and windows closed when the car is parked.

As for the question about the PA function being overridden quickly, it depends on the specific system and the car make and model. Some systems may have a manual override button that the driver can press to turn off the PA system, while others may require the driver to take certain actions such as pressing the brake pedal or steering the car in a certain way. It is best to consult the car’s manual or speak with a dealership or manufacturer representative to learn more about the specific PA system in your car and how it can be overridden.

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