Could the vehicles of the future help prevent one of the most troubling forms of modern urban terrorism?
Drivers ramming cars into crowds of people has become a troubling tactic of terrorists in the last few years. This is because cars are easy to acquire and require no special equipment or training to use for nefarious purposes.
One of the speakers at the GSMA's Connected Vehicle Summit in San Francisco on Thursday talked about one way to possibly prevent that it in the future through the use of driver-operated cars, autonomous vehicles and even drones.
"If someone tries to "drive a car into a crowd... we want an ethics key to tell the thing to switch itself off," said Murat Sonmez, who heads up a group called the Center for the Fourth Industrial Revolution within the World Economic Forum (WEF) and is also a WEF board member.
This would be part of the software onboard the car, on "any intelligent vehicle," Somnez told Light Reading after his talk. The group is working on this as part of a project in Boston that involves the mayor and major car manufacturers, among others.
The WEF spends a lot of time working on and talking about the ethics of what it calls the fourth industrial revolution, which involves plenty of focus on intelligent vehicles.
Of course, one obvious loophole here is that terrorists could choose to use older cars that aren't as "intelligent." Obviously, these "dumb" cars will be around for the foreseeable future and incapable of being upgraded with a so-called ethics switch.
There is also always the potential that future intelligent vehicles could themselves be hacked.
Nonetheless, an ethics switch on cars -- and more -- in the near future looks like a distinct possibility.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading