Self-driving Car Hits Firetruck

If you can’t detect a big red truck with lights and sirens… Tesla’s Autopilot was engaged during Utah crash

  • The driver of a Tesla electric car that hit a Utah fire department vehicle said the car’s semi-autonomous Autopilot mode was engaged at the time of the crash.
  • Tesla’s Elon Musk said it was “super messed up” that an incident involving his company was receiving significant attention, while thousands of auto accidents a year are regularly ignored.

Because Tesla should only get good publicity.

Not only was the autopilot engaged, but it did not appear to slow down or apply the brakes before the crash.


Tech News Roundup. Tesla, Hacking 911, Another Data Breach

There is too much insanity for individual posts….

First we have Tesla. Someone conducted a very unscientific test, but was able to reproduce some of the behavior reported prior to the latest crash.

They want you to believe it was the driver, or a broken part. I think the real reason is that auto-driving cars are not quite ready for prime time. Video shows Tesla Model S Autopilot veering towards barrier where fatal crash occurred – SlashGear

Unfortunately the part that seems to be broken in this video is the autopilot. Not a scientific test, but with 2 data points that line up….

Will be interesting to see if anyone else does something similar.

This is an easy prediction: Attacks on cities and on 911 infrastructure will continue for the foreseeable future.

Cities remain a tempting target for hackers. Cities continue to be vulnerable. (They love to put stuff on the intertubes, but they don’t love to pay for security.) Hackers have taken down dozens of 911 centers. Why is it so hard to stop them?

There have been 184 attacks on cities in the past 2 years.

911 centers have been directly or indirectly attacked in 42 of the 184 cases on SecuLore’s list, the company says. Two dozen involved ransomware attacks, in which hackers use a virus to remotely seize control of a computer system and hold it hostage for payment.

It doesn’t say how many of those attacks were WannaCry, or one of the variants patched by Microsoft last year, but I think it probably fair to say that at least some of those attacks were the result of city managers ignoring pleas from their IT staff to upgrade old systems. Some of them are denial of service and some of them like the hack of Atlanta are newer problems.

As long as managers and people responsible for paying the bills don’t think security is important, we will have more attacks on 911 centers, more retailers will have their systems hacked, and more people who want to buy something or schedule a vacation or get help in an emergency will pay the price.

And finally, the latest retailer to prove that they shouldn’t be trusted with your credit card (or other) information is Panera.

Continue reading

The Tesla Crash Highlights Costs to Fire Departments

There are a lot of issues, but consider the impact on fire departments. Fire chief: Tesla crash shows electric car fires could strain department resources |

“Even after 24 hours of extinguishment, these (lithium) ion batteries could reignite if they’ve been damaged, and again cause a fire,” Diaz said.

Fire crews arrived to the scene of the accident around 9:30 a.m. Chief Diaz said the last engine company went back into service around 4:30 p.m. In a gasoline car fire, he said, all companies would’ve likely been back in service within minutes.

Consider that for a minute. 7 hours versus a few minutes. Exactly how many more engine companies are going to be required to handle the number of accidents? Do batteries burst into flame at once, or can they ignite later? Taxes will have to be raised for more trucks and more personnel. And before all that happens, there will be a shortage of fire fighters. So what impact will that have?

And all of that is in Mountain View, CA, where they can call in a Tesla engineering team to dismantle the battery. What is Chicago or Detroit supposed to do? (Chicago can’t fund the teachers’ pension and is being bailed out by the People’s Republic of Illinois. Do you think they can afford a bunch more fire fighters?) What is the “recommended 3000 gallons” to control a battery fire going to look like in water-starved Florida, or Arizona?

What Price Lithium-Ion Batteries?

Do you care that children mine Cobalt in some of the worst conditions to produce those electric cars and cell phones? Would you care if wasn’t kids, just poor people in the Congo? Congo’s child labor spurs demand from Apple, Tesla for ethically produced cobalt

Good luck.

Cobalt helps power everything from smartphones to laptops to electric vehicles.

It’s a key ingredient in lithium batteries, a product that has seen an explosion in demand recently.

But 60 percent of the world’s cobalt comes from the Congo, where children often do much of the hard labor.

Of course that won’t eliminate the problem. It will just shift the distribution around. (It’s simple economics – there is so much cobalt available, and Apple/Tesla/Samsung/et al need it.) So that cobalt from the Congo will end up in your security camera, or the off-brand battery you order for your laptop. Or whatever. Anything with a memory that lives beyond a power outage probably has a lithium-ion battery today. While Apple can dictate terms, not every manufacturer can.

So You Think Security Doesn’t Affect You?

There might be some folks who want to hack your car. Researchers hack Tesla Model S with remote attack | PCWorld

This article starts out stating that Tesla – with an actual bug bounty – may be the most security aware car company in existence. It hasn’t helped.

Researchers from Chinese technology company Tencent found a series of vulnerabilities that, when combined, allowed them to remotely take over a Tesla Model S car and control its sunroof, central display, door locks and even the braking system.

Locked that laptop and digital SLR in the trunk? Hackers can open it. Anybody have a violent stalker? A disgruntled employee? How about a bitter ex? Hackers can provide control to the braking system.

If you are using an electronic key fob to open your car, then you are probably giving thieves access to the trunk. OR the interior. (What does an airbag go for these days?)

People continue to insist that security is not a concern to them. They “don’t have anything to hide” from the NSA. But that isn’t the only issue. And the NSA isn’t even universally a bad guy. [Hat tip to Small Dead Animals.

Self-driving Car in Fatal Crash

A few more iterations on the self-driving cars are required before I am getting in one. NHTSA probes Tesla self-driving cars after fatal crash

NHTSA said preliminary reports say the crash happened when a semi-trailer rig turned left in front of the Tesla at a highway intersection. Police said the roof of the car struck the underside of the trailer and the car passed beneath. The car went off the road, striking two wire fences and a power pole before coming to a rest about 100 feet away. The driver was dead at the scene.

“Neither Autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor-trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied,” Tesla said in a blog posting Thursday.

Engineers are always so sure their creations will work. But they don’t always.

After the break is a video of a crash of an airliner that was supposed to fly itself. The engineers were so sure…. Continue reading

When Government Controls the Market: No Tesla Motors in NJ

They have institutionalized the dealership model. A model that made lots of sense (perhaps) when Ford was selling the Model A (or even before that). But is it really necessary today? Fuggedaboutit: New Jersey tells Tesla to close its stores – San Jose Mercury News.

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission unanimously ordered Palo Alto-based Tesla Motors to close its two stores in the state April 1. Tesla has sold more than 600 Model S sedans in the state since those stores opened a year ago, but the commission said the company is violating a New Jersey statute that prohibits auto manufacturers from selling automobiles directly to consumers.

Why is this written into law? Because the dealers donate lots of money to political campaigns. No other good reason today. (And it isn’t only in New Jersey that this is the law.)