Uber snatched up Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek, the hackers who exposed a serious security vulnerability in Fiat Chrysler (FCA) vehicles, which resulted in the first ever recall for potential car hacking, on Friday, reports Reuters. An engineer at Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh announced on Twitter that Miller and Valasek would be joining him there, in a tweet.
This comes two days after the company announced a partnership with the University of Arizona to develop autonomous car tech.
Miller, who previously worked at Twitter, and Valasek, who worked at IOActive, discovered a vulnerability in vehicles equipped with FCA’s Uconnect infotainment system that allowed them to be taken over remotely. The two hackers demonstrated this with a 2014 Jeep Cherokee driven by a reporter fromWired.
Following the widely shared Wired report, FCA issued an unprecedented recall of 1.4 million Uconnect-equipped vehicles, urging owners to install a security patch via USB stick. It was the first time cars were recalled in regards to a hacking threat.
It was one of several recent stories about car hacking, some demonstrated at the Black Hat and DefCon security conferences. While vulnerabilities in Tesla andGM’s OnStar received a fair amount of attention, Miller and Valasek’s hack was easily the most significant.
In the cases of Tesla and GM, hackers needed a physical connection to gain control of a vehicle’s functions, while Miller and Valasek were able to do it remotely.
Uber has made many moves that point to it developing a self-driving car, including a partnership with the University of Arizona and a new research center in Pittsburgh. The company recently acquired mapping startup deCarta and much of Microsoft’s Bing Maps. It was also reported Uber also attempted to acquire Nokia’s mapping division, but it was instead sold to a consortium of German automakers.
Mapping technology is essential for the development of self-driving cars.
Mapping technology is essential for the development of self-driving cars.While it’s unclear specifically why Uber hired Miller and Valasek — the two hackers and the company declined to comment to Reuters — it’s not too difficult to connect the dots, especially considering they were hired as a pair.
Getting rid of drivers, which wouldn’t happen for a long time (if that’s Uber’s intent), would make a lot of business sense for Uber. It would save cost and increase safety and convenience.
The competition for a self-driving car is getting incredibly heated.
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