Autonomous vehicles or self-driving cars are getting smarter, safer, and more reliable. However, they still face a significant challenge: securing them from intentional tampering or theft caused by rogue individuals or vehicles. According to the recently published patent, "Malicious event detection for autonomous vehicles" (Patent No. US11731657B2), the company named TuSimple has attempted a novel solution to this problem.
Currently, the autonomous vehicle technology isn't equipped to recognize harmful intent or suspicious activities around them. For example, someone could force an autonomous vehicle to alter its normal route or intended speed limit. They may even cause a minor collision and escape the scene unnoticed. Worse, these nefarious activities could lead to stealing cargo, devices, or the ultra-advanced technology embedded in the vehicle. This vulnerability poses a substantial risk to the usefulness and adoption of autonomous vehicles, and this is exactly the problem that the patent addresses.
In layman's terms, TuSimple has designed what could be called a 'detective system' for their self-driving cars. This system is continuously on the lookout for unusual events, such as someone trying to divert the car's path or repeated encounters with the same rogue vehicle. The system not only detects these odd events, but it also assigns a 'confidence score' to each set of events, determining the likelihood of a genuine threat. If the system deems the situation hazardous, it escalates the matter and responds accordingly, whether by changing the vehicle's route, adjusting speed, or potentially alerting local authorities.
Imagine stepping into a taxi devoid of any driver, gliding through traffic, and arriving at your destination without a hitch. Throughout your ride, the self-driving car is constantly scanning the surroundings for any unusual activities, ensuring that you and the vehicle are safe from any attempted theft or tampering. This patented technology also ensures that deliveries using autonomous vehicles could become much less susceptible to cargo theft. A safer, more reliable self-driving experience could bring about a shift in public sentiment, increasing confidence and adoption of these futuristic vehicles.
P.S. It should be noted that as a patent, there is no guarantee that this innovation will make it to market. However, it's a clear sign of the heightened attention given to enhancing the security aspect of autonomous vehicles. And such innovations play a critical role in propelling us into a future where self-driving cars are as common as those with human drivers.