My Car Quest

July 16, 2024

Autonomous Cars – Question No. 4

by Mike –

In connection with research for his upcoming book on autonomous cars, author Wallace Wyss has posed another scenario he envisions could happen as we enter the vaunted age of autonomous cars.

Readers are invited to loose their slings and arrows because, not being an engineer, Wyss admits he may be unaware of some coming technology that would save this situation.


We are assuming that all autonomous cars will be created equal. Hey, you are not accounting for that little thing called human nature…


Right now, in 2017, there are chips you can buy to put in your BMW that change the fuel enrichment, transition fueling, camshaft timing, ignition timing, VANOS control, etc. This makes certain chips not meet the CARB standards in California.

I’m theorizing that, once autonomous cars are common in America, there will be rich folks who pay that little extra so that their autonomous car can “get an edge” on the other autonomous cars around it.


Ricky “Mr. Flash” Sidro is behind the wheel of his 2020 WhoopyDo. It looks just like the other 3020 WhoopyDos around him but he has paid extra on the black market to have a system installed that automatically reaches out to all the cars around him that are autonomous and retards their acceleration. Not by much, but just enough for him to carve his way through traffic like they’re suddenly pulling 10,000 loads of sandbags.

To give a comparison, I have a friend who is an insurance investigator. He told me he can go into Starbucks and severely retard the performance of all the laptops in the joint. That is so nobody can access his signal and see what documents he alone is reading.

He doesn’t, alas, feel any guilt about this in the least. My question is: what will insure that there aren’t “outlaw” autonomous cars that have the ability to retard the performance of other autonomous cars around them so they can rule?

If all cars can talk to each other, what’s to stop one from being a bully?

Let us know what you think in the Comments.



Autocar Magazine

A vision of the self-driven car from Lockheed and a British Professor – Autocar Magazine – 5 November 1954

Click here to read Autonomous Cars – Question No. 1.

Click here to read Autonomous Cars – Question No. 2.

Click here to read Autonomous Cars – Question No. 3.

Autonomous Cars – Question No. 4
Article Name
Autonomous Cars – Question No. 4
Can autonomous cars be "bad"?


  1. Richard Shafer says

    Think about the way things are now, and reverse them. The 1% have the autonomous vehicles now. Once the autos are developed, the poor will have the autonomous cars, and the 1% will have the gas,diesel,etc… Autos. And once again the masses will crave what the masters have.

  2. Lennox McNeely says

    It’s likely been covered but certainly Law Enforcement could use Special Software to halt the vehicle they are
    pursueing. Someday I hope this will also include software to shut down guns used by criminals and terrorists.

  3. They have already speculated about today’s drivers starting to take advantage of the “niceness” of SDCs (e.g., zooming by and cutting in, with the SDC having to give way, always). Consistency in the sea of cars on the road is a good thing for good non-SDC drivers, but also provides a chance for taking advantage because the SDCs are predictable and constrained. So it’s no leap to figure that people with SDCs will seek the same advantage. The only wrinkle is that many SDCs will likely be owned and maintained by fleet management companies, and unless mods can be made quickly and without leaving a trace, those SDCs won’t be subject to compromise (much).

    And as for the bully scenario, it wouldn’t be hard to look for localized slowdowns without justification and then identify the outlier (i.e., the one car going faster). If the other cars showed receipt of messages specifying a lower speed at that time, they could also identify where the messages came from (since the messages will be logged and the logs should prevent erasure remotely). So that sort of bullying would have to be very clever and erase a whole lot of electronic footprints to work.

  4. “And once again the masses will crave what the masters have.”
    So what. It’s assumed that only the top 10% will wish their own auto-autonomy for their collector cars. The rest uses what amounts to a form of *public* transportation in order ot save on auto insurance and the headache of driving on public roads ( time lost not being producitve using your laptop or relaxing and enjoying the scenery or shared conversation as on a train ) I once ditched my car for train travel from Wash.D.C. to N.Y. Penn Station and then onto the L.i.R.R.on my way to my destination . Result: no tolls, no traffic headaches, made it in far less time while relaxing.
    You can have your super-cars ( ie; anything in the Ralph Lauren collection where one *wears* their cars like his status clothing ) that can’t travel on public roads at the speeds they were designed for. Give thatee thought some exercise why don’tchya?

  5. imwithstoop says

    Sorry. but there will always be those who will work hard to defeat the existing technology.

    It’s our nature to try to outsmart the “man”. Ergo that which is made by man can be changed by man regardless the originals sophistication. Sorta like how progress is achieved, one-upmanship.

    Just look at garage doors with rolling code transmitters and receivers.

    No matter how you do it, there will be others to undo it.
    The weak underbelly of such a system, autonomous vehicles, it that they must all conform to same protocols, actually not too autonomous are they?

    Also, the authorities will be required to place extremely high penalties to those that do the hacking, and the richer you are, the higher the cost, perhaps as far as to confiscate the offending vehicle. Germany has done this for a long time, do wrong on their roads, such as left-hand lane driving and weaving etc. And it works for the most part, but like explained previously, there will always be the outliers.

  6. Mike Clarke says

    The problem with government involved is you will always get less and pay more. It will never meet expectations or potential. instead of this new technology making our lives better it will just provide disappointment. Look at California’s bullet train high speed -not as promised, LA to SF not as promised, on budget- not as promised. cost effective- no.

    • There’ll always be the hammer of auto insurance. Sure ,you can be your own driver, but screw up just once ( and ,at worst , cause an accident , but even caught DUI ) and your privileges will be suspended and the offenders will have to use driverless cars like the rest of us. Those that don’t offend can keep their privileges and their high-end auto insurance for taking the continued risks. Your call.

  7. wallace wyss says

    The bullet train, pushed by Gov. Brown of Calif. is the perfect example of total waste for political ends. Over $2 billion spent and not one inch of track laid. The move toward autonomous is a giant invitation for the government to take over more of the running of our lives by supervising everybody’s driving. They will be able to regular our speed, (and write us tickets automatically when we exceed it) and even decide what roads and/or lanes we have access to. When some bigwig goes by, he will be able to press a button and reserve a lane all for his limo (still human piloted).

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