Michigan Senate Passes Legislation to Increase Penalties for Hacking Self-Driving Cars

Car HackingMichigan’s Senate passed legislation that would enforce stricter penalties for those that will engage in hacking autonomous vehicles.

The unanimous approval came at a time when the state has started to brace itself for the looming self-driving car era. Michigan has long been considered the home of the automotive industry, according to BetterSeeSeelye.com.

The current punishment for tampering with computer systems of self-driving vehicles involves a 10-year sentence and a fine worth $50,000. If the bill becomes law, the sentence would be increased to life in prison if the offense leads to the victim’s death.

Bill Coverage

The proposed legislation does not cover car manufacturers or licensed mechanics that perform legitimate services to an autonomous vehicle. The state acted on the cybersecurity issue due to the vulnerability of self-driving cars.

Automotive cybersecurity experts Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek demonstrated the validity of the concern when they successfully took control of a car’s computer system without the permission of its owner. By hacking the system, the duo was able to control the vehicle’s brakes and steering wheel.

Auto manufacturers are being more vigilant and proactive in resolving the issue with some tightening any loopholes, by plugging holes in a car’s computer brain to ward off hackers.

Testing Playground

In an attempt to achieve faultless technology, Kettering University launched the Kettering University GM Mobility Research Center to serve as a testing facility for self-driving vehicles. Located in Flint, Mich., the school seeks to attract companies and students to its outdoor research lab and test tracks.

The university uses a private LTE wireless network in its study of improving the technology’s safety aspects, as well as its performance in the future. Kettering University officials said that the school has lured interest from certain companies that want to use the research facility.

Autonomous technology still remains a work in progress. Until then, it’s probably safer to stick with a more conventional car with you steering the wheel.