AUTOMATIC self-driving cars, which will be seen on the streets in Melbourne in the coming decades, could be sabotaged and used as weapon by terrorists.
Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Ramzi Jabbour warned smartcars being developed by companies such as Google could be exploited by criminals, including extremists, to wreak havoc.
Police fear terrorists could get a driverless car, pack it with explosives, pre-program it, then days later from the other side of the world use a computer to activate the vehicle along a course to a specific target.
“While advances in technology will present significant opportunities and revolutionise aspects of our everyday lives, it will also present significant challenges to police,” Mr Jabbour said.
“Driverless vehicles could be exploited by criminals, including terrorists, to be pre-programmed to carry out criminal acts.”
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said he believed the advent of the self-driving car would ultimately save lives.
Most fatal car crashes are caused by driver error, a factor which would be eradicated by the new technology.
“In the world of transport we are already seeing trials of the driverless car and this will continue to develop,” Mr Ashton said.
“If this concept becomes reality it would significantly improve safety on our roads, because most road trauma is currently a result of driver error or impairment.”
People in driverless cars could use their smartphone or computer while travelling.
“These devices will continue to be part of the vehicle integration, so you will have all the transport data you need at your voice command,” Mr Ashton said.
“In policing we are excited by the driverless concept because we can see the potential for reducing road trauma.”