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Will autonomous cars be used by police for tracking others?

Will autonomous cars be used by police for tracking others?

I suspect that at some point autonomous cars will NEED to label all nearby cars in order to drive better, because that will help track and predict their individual movements in traffic. Each car that gets close will have its number plated added to that tracking, and at that point every car that ever drives near an autonomous car will be trackable.

It doesn't seem to be a huge jump. If a Tesla can read a parking sign, it could read a number plate. And there'd be no reason to not allow police to request every Tesla to report if it had seen a given car suspected in a child abduction. The Tesla AP2 might (eventually) be able to report the movements of another car over a 2km stretch of road while it was occasionally within visual range, and even supply video.

Taken further, will police tap into this kind of technology to allow cars to report speeding or dangerous drivers, or cars with a tail light out, or to identify a long list of cars with traffic infringements?

mike | 25 oktober 2016

A bit paranoia but also a good question... I'd like to think that this issue has come up already, especially over the last 5+ years where there are cameras on every corner & on every traffic signal.

At least in the US, my bet is that the ACLU has fought & continues to fight the debate of our right to privacy vs. "the safety of our citizens".

As far as tail lights & other non-moving violations, I think the car will save us from those types of things. Example: You're driving along & the computer senses a tail light is out. It notifies you & schedules an appointment with the dealer or (if possible) just orders the part you need replaced. Your receipt, if pulled over, shows that the issue has already been dealt with. Plus, the computer could also show the time/date the tail light went out (it just happened, or not).

tykayn | 25 oktober 2016

that is a real thing to get concerned about since Snowden served proofs about massive spying on people, smart cars are also target for a big data market who has nothing to do with "security" as it is usually spoken.
my bet is that tesla ingeneers have made some stuff about it,
encrypted data and end to end secure communications so that when you want to inspect the hard drive of the car you will need an astronomous time to decrypt what it contains, and same goes for the servers used for deep learning.
great thing are these updates on the air.
a little more info about security concerns would be welcome.

Artjamie | 25 oktober 2016

I see people buying security cameras now based the cameras ability to provide good facial recognition to software. What's to keep the tesla computer from doing a facial scan and alert the government when it detects someone with a warrant out for arrest? Not sure if that's a good thing or bad. Soon everyone will need to put a bag over their head if they want to get way with breaking the law no matter where they are.

dsvick | 25 oktober 2016

Why would an autonomous car need to record the license plate number of nearby cars in order to do its job? It may record them as a result of them driving by the camera but there isn't any need that I can think of to specifically find and record the license plates.

nadurse | 25 oktober 2016

To answer the question, I think yes the technology is there for those things to happen theoretically... the better question is why would Tesla give this information to the government? This would be a major blow to their brand and likely diminish their customer base. I think you can look at the recent spat between the US government and Apple over the san bernadino terrorist's phone hack to see how this theoretical scenario would play out.

Red Sage ca us | 25 oktober 2016

Scary people don't even like the idea of drones that fly and that's a great idea. They sure as heck will go bonkers if Police had rolling drones on city streets, highways, and byways.

grega | 25 oktober 2016

@dsvick When humans drive we see lots of cars, and often recognise a car driving badly. On an autonomous car it'd be worth noticing that dangerous car, and not "forgetting" it when it goes out of sight (eg: goes behind a bus), as this increases safety. So I figure the AI will label each car in some way with some attributes that define it, and recording the number plate is a small easy part of that. It just seems to be a side effect.

@RedSage I agree no-one wants to be tracked. That includes both the police knowing my movements because my car tells them, or because speed cameras start noting every car that passes, or other cars track me. I guess if cars self-report, and some people start avoiding buying smarts cars to avoid being self-reported, then the smart cars reporting the dumb cars will be a final step. But that hangs on the dubious premise of self reporting in the first place.

At some point some service will allow people to forward a Facebook message they got to "look out for this van", telling their AI to look out for it. And possibly asking "did we see this van when we drove past that location yesterday". People will like that option... but it's opening up less noble options.

dsvick | 26 oktober 2016

Putting aside all the other arguments, the one place having them scan and process license plates would be in the case of an amber alert. Your car could automatically receive the alert info which would include the suspected vehicle's license info. Then, if your car spots it, it could notify the police and include accurate GPS info as well direction and rate of travel.

Remnant | 26 oktober 2016

I only hope that this kind of SW doesn't have a pummeling function that could be triggered if the stand-by driver misbehaves.

It would be really pitiful to get to work with a black eye and hear people say, "So-so has pissed his car off again with a humorless joke, poor guy.. When is going to learn a bit of bot humor, like we all have...?"

jordanrichard | 26 oktober 2016

ummmm no.

Your focus is on the cameras and what it records. Then you mind as well apply that question to present day and all of the dash cams out there.

The leap yout hink Tesla could make would be the same as presently making it a mandate that to own/install a dash cam, requires you by law to turn you Sim card in everyday for the police to review to catch violators.

grega | 26 oktober 2016

I agree that the logic of moving from dash-cams to all cams would make it unlikely.

My logic came from cars reporting their own position since they're always online, which some may argue is logical (as it's so easy). And probably tracking other car locations anyway as part of Level 5 (for its own driving).

And if you combine those then a system for all cars to be required to report their position kind of makes sense.. then watered down to modern cars reporting the location of other cars.

All suppositions of course!

And if you accept V2V technology is the future (where all cars report their position, velocity and speed to other cars) it's not a big leap to have 30% of V2V equipped cars reporting what the other 70% are doing to form a crowd-sourced up to date view of the road.

grega | 26 oktober 2016

(haha... velocity and speed... quite redundant. I had direction and speed, and meant to change to velocity and intent... oops)