Hacking street signs with stickers could confuse self-driving cars


Progress in the field of machine vision is one of the most important factors in the rise of the self-driving car. An autonomous vehicle has to be able to sense its environment and react appropriately. Free space has to be calculated, solid objects avoided, and any and all of the instructions we helpfully leave everywhere—painted on the tarmac or posted on signs—have to be obeyed.

Deep neural networks turned out to be pretty good at classifying images, but it's still worth remembering that the process is quite unlike the way humans identify images, even if the end results are fairly similar. I was reminded of that once again this morning when reading about a method of spoofing road signs. It's a technique that just looks like street art to you or me, but it completely changes the meaning of a stop sign to the machine reading it.