File picture: Robyn Beck / AFP.

Canberra, Australia - Self-driving cars could be used as dangerous weapons of terrorism, the Australian authorities have warned.

Ramzi Jabbour, deputy commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, warned that such cars, which are being developed bynumerous carmakers as well as by tech companies such as Google, could be easily exploited by criminals and terrorists to wreak havoc.

Jabbour said that law enforcement worldwide would face significant challenges when the driverless cars became available. Police fear that terrorists could acquire a driverless vehicle, pack it with explosives then remotely drive it towards a specific target and detonate the explosives from the other side of the world.

“While advances in technology will present significant opportunities and revolutionise aspects of our everyday lives, it will also present significant challenges to police,” Jabbour told News Limited on Tuesday. “Driverless vehicles could be exploited by criminals, including terrorists, to be pre-programmed to carry out criminal acts.”

Yet surely they’ll still save more lives?

Graham Ashton, chief commissioner for Victoria Police, said he believed driverless cars would ultimately save more lives than they would cost. “In the world of transport we are already seeing trials of the driverless car and this will continue to develop,” Ashton told News Limited. “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.”

Ashton said even using devices such as laptops or mobile phones while riding in a driverless car was a concept that excited Victoria Police. “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,” he said. “In policing we are excited by the driverless concept because we can see the potential for reducing road trauma.”


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