The problem is that the vast majority of cars do not support over-the-air or wireless software updates. That means vehicle owners are responsible for addressing identified exploits by either downloading software patches onto thumb drives and upgrading vehicles themselves or bringing their cars to a dealer for the upgrade.
As more cars are wirelessly connected, wireless updates will become more common. Still, as vehicles continue to gain autonomous features they're put at more risk of a hack or software exploit.
"I don't think the market will accept a consumer approach of an exploit happening...and then you fix it, because in an autonomous vehicle an exploit can be catastrophic," Poliak said.
"We're decoupling that hamster wheel of patch/fix and trying to be proactive in building systems that have a resiliency...that prevents any catastrophic attack on an autonomous vehicle," Pollack added.
One of the issues facing the auto industry is the computer system reboot, which unlike a phone or desktop computer, can't be done on the fly.
A separate survey just released by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and its social media communities revealed challenges to the future of driverless vehicles.
Respondents indicated that they wouldn't feel comfortable with driverless vehicles transporting their children, and that safety and trust in the technology remain the biggest barriers to consumer adoption.
The survey was distributed to IEEE experts who are members of the IEEE Intelligent Vehicle Systems society. There are about 1,300 members, of whom 119 responded. The survey was also promoted on its Facebook and Twitter social channels, through which it received an additional 294 responses.
When asked on a scale from 1-5 about their comfort having autonomous vehicles pick up/drop off their children (1 being not at all comfortable to 5 being very comfortable), 70.8% of experts and 59.7% of IEEE social media followers pinned their comfort level at a 3 or below on the scale.
When asked what their main concern is about driverless vehicles on the road, IEEE social media followers and experts -- 54.3% and 62.6%, respectively -- said safety is the primary issue for their wariness.
The vast majority -- 75.5% of IEEE experts -- indicated they would use autonomous vehicles for daily errands, followed by daily commuting (74.1%) and road trips (60.7%).
When asked what needs to be addressed for driverless vehicles to be considered safe, experts want to see better driverless vehicle technology. Additionally, 26% of experts responded that government policies and regulations remain the main barrier to mass adoption of autonomous vehicles.
"I think that we are absolutely going to be seeing driverless vehicles on the road in the near future, possibly in as little as five years," said Jeffrey Miller, IEEE member and associate professor of engineering practice at the University of Southern California. "Experts from all over the world are contributing to this industry and it will be interesting to see which country is able to offer driverless vehicles first. Environment, regulations and consumer acceptance will be key drivers to its success."
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