Driverless Car Tech Can Take Over and Call the Cops on You

It appears that we are firmly on the path towards fully autonomous roads. But until then, drivers will be reckless and lawless. So, in the meantime, Huawei has decided that having in-car tech to detect misbehaving drivers—and take over or call the police on you—is a good idea.

The Chinese tech company submitted a patent for the technology to the European Patent Office last month. And it’s creepy, but also clever. The car’s AI system records past images of the driver and can compare facial expressions and speech to determine the driver’s state—ie. tired, inebriated, distracted or even angry—and if he was in the right state to drive. This is done using sensors and cameras in the cabin of the car.

Huawei’s smartphone-driven car. Image: via theinquirer.net

The system can also ask the driver a series of questions to further gauge the driver’s state. Of course, there are numerous driver-assistance features already being adopted by production cars on the road. But the Huawei feature can decide to allow—or block—the driver from controlling the car. Who is the real driver of the car in this case?

 

This “small” piece of news comes amidst the call by the US of A to boycott Huawei tech, condemning the Chinese company as a national security threat. Huawei’s CFO, Meng Wanzhou, was arrested in Canada in December 2018, at the request of its neighbour, for allegedly violating US sanctions on Iran. The US government is continuing to warn the world against using Huawei’s products to build 5G wireless networks for fear that the tech company is using this to spy for the Chinese government. Huawei founder and CEO (and father to the arrested CFO), Ren Zhengfei, hit back saying that the accusations are politically motivated.

What a mess. Car safety or spying technology? Both, perhaps. But the future is certainly sounding very Big Brother-ish, disturbingly so.

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