MSU helping to create safer self-driving cars


Like it or not self-driving cars will soon start to surface on roadways. Many experts believe by 2025, seeing an autonomous vehicle on the street won’t be too surprising. This autonomous technology is exciting, but can be dangerous if not fully safe-guarded.

So, as progress of self-driving cars continues to grow, German auto parts maker, ZF, sought out assistance on cyber-security strategies for driver safety. They found and selected Dr. Betty Cheng, a computer science and engineering professor at MSU to help. Cheng has been working with autonomous features since 2000, but her new project is to keep hackers from controlling your future car.

“We are looking at addressing safety of autonomous vehicles and cars with autonomous features and specifically looking at how to detect, prevent, and mitigate cyber-security threats.”

Cheng says fully autonomous cars are going to be talking to each other, to gps satellites in space, and to roadway beacons to help guarantee safety — problem is, all that data drifting around makes your car vulnerable to different cyber-security threats.

“Potentially a hacker could break into your car or cause your car to do things you don’t want them to do.”

Cheng says the focus of this project is to figure out how to prevent errors and unwanted behavior due to cyber-security threats. She’s designing what is essentially artificial intelligence – dedicated to protecting your car.

“You want to prevent it if possible, but also to know and detect there has been a breach, and once there is a breach, what is the safest way to ensure that you can mitigate that particular breach.”

Cheng’s project will look to improve both existing and newly developed autonomous systems, and likely one day the car you’re not driving around, will be guided by someone associated with MSU.

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