FBI is afraid that driverless cars could be used as deadly weapons

Terrorist threats and ever-tightening security measures are an accepted part of life these days, and as technology pushes forward, we'll be exposed to more risks – with the FBI's latest warning coming on the subject of driverless vehicles.

The Guardian got hold of an FBI report which states that the Bureau believes the driverless car is a "game changing" development which could lead to the vehicles being used as "lethal weapons"; not to mention completely altering high-speed car chases.

The potential for a large hunk of remote controlled metal to be used as a weapon is obvious enough. With no driver, there's no (physical) risk to the criminal or terrorist, and indeed the car could be packed with explosives without requiring any driver to go up in bits with it.

The FBI has obviously been pondering this issue a great deal, as the report goes into detail about how self-driving cars could be used as, for example, automated getaway drivers, allowing all of the occupants of the vehicle to accomplish other tasks such as shooting out the windows at chasing police.

The Guardian notes that the report states: "Autonomy ... will make mobility more efficient, but will also open up greater possibilities for dual-use applications and ways for a car to be more of a potential lethal weapon that it is today."

Of course, the irony is that the whole point of self-driving cars is to make the roads a much safer place. That will still (theoretically) hold true, by and large, and whatever you invent, there'll always be a number of people trying to abuse that invention for malicious purposes.

How Google, which is famously building its own driverless cars, will take into account the potential for such abuse remains to be seen, but presumably some counter-measures could be installed in intelligent cars. Though how genuine law abiding owners would feel about the equivalent of a remote off-switch or similar scheme, that's another matter...

While driverless cars are still very much in the future right now, it's certainly prudent to be thinking ahead concerning potential issues.