Autonomous cars are becoming more popular and desired, especially as Google continues to show off the work they have been doing. However, there are still concerns that many of us have regarding self-driving cars. One of our biggest concerns has recently come to life when hackers took control of a Jeep Cherokee while it was driving on a freeway.

Now, as scary as this seems, this was simply a couple of hackers trying to prove a point; and they did a great job of doing it. In a controlled test with Wired, Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek took control of a Jeep Cherokee with self-driving capabilities. Through the test, Miller and Valasek were able to prove that hackers could take control of a vehicle while it was being operated by a driver. First they took control of the A/C unit, car stereo, and the vehicles digital display, all of which are relatively harmless. Then came the big guns; they asked the driver to pull onto the freeway, and the hackers “cut the transmission” and the car slowed down to a crawl.

This is not the first time Miller and Valasek have proved their point. They have also taken control of the braking system and steering wheel of a Ford Escape and Toyota Prius.

While this was a controlled test, the possibility of hackers taking control of cars is real. Charlie Miller has estimated there are 471,000 vehicles on the road today that are vulnerable to being remotely hacked. As more manufacturers make smarter vehicles and provide internet access to the car, the ability for hackers to remotely access your vehicle will become more of a threat.

Chrysler has stated:

Similar to a smartphone or tablet, vehicle software can require updates for improved security protection to reduce the potential risk of unauthorized and unlawful access to vehicle systems

Just like computers. If you want to stay protected, you need to continually update your system. Chrysler has been creating patches to protect further their vehicles. Owners can download the patch via a USB stick or visit a car dealership mechanic. However, this means you need to manually download the patch for it to take effect. Let’s hope that manual intervention will not be needed in the future when, not if,  owners forget or will simply not know of a new update available to their car.

Before self-driving cars can be available to us, this concern will need to be addressed. I am not sure how Google or other autonomous manufactures will be able to address and prove that their vehicles cannot be hacked. However, it will need to be done before I fork out the cash to buy a self-driving car.

What are your thoughts? What are you most concerned about when it comes to self-driving vehicles? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.