The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Strategic Issues Group is worried about the possible criminal uses of all these self-driving cars that folks like Google are trying to get on our roadways.
The Guardian obtained an internal FBI report, which offers up some insight into how the country's top investigative body feels about all this autonomy. From The Guardian:
In a section called Multitasking, the report notes that “bad actors will be able to conduct tasks that require use of both hands or taking one’s eyes off the road which would be impossible today.”
Send a text? Change the song on Spotify? The FBI is presumably worried about these "bad actors" doing things that are hard to do when focusing on not crashing the car – like shooting (accurately) at pursuant cops.
Again, from the report:
The report, written by agents in the Strategic Issues Group within the FBI’s Directorate of Intelligence , says, “Autonomy … will make mobility more efficient, but will also open up greater possibilities for dual-use applications and ways for a car to be more of a potential lethal weapon that it is today.”
A little vague – thousand-pound boxes of metal and glass are already potentially lethal weapons. But it's not a huge leap to wonder about even more sinister uses for an autonomous vehicle. One the comes to mind, of course, is allowing suicide bombings to, well, just be bombings.
It's not all doom and gloom from the report, however. The FBI rightly acknowledges that "the risk that distraction or poor judgement leading to collision that stems from manual operation would be substantially reduced."
They also speculate on some potential uses for the good guys – like better suspect tracking through inconspicuousness. It sure would be easier to sic a driverless car on a criminal's tail. Would they even notice? I'd imagine that driverless cars would have to become pretty commonplace before people would stop caring about the ghost mobiles following them.
Image via Google Self-Driving Car Project, YouTube