The team from the Georgia Institute of Technology looked at what it would take for future hackers to wreak havoc by randomly stranding driverless cars.
“Unlike most of the data breaches we hear about, hacked cars have physical consequences,” said Peter Yunker, who co-led the study.
“With cars, one of the worrying things is that currently there is effectively one central computing system, and a lot runs through it.
“You don’t necessarily have separate systems to run your car and run your satellite radio. If you can get into one, you may be able to get into the other,” said Jesse Silverberg who co-led the study with Yunker.
In simulations the researchers froze traffic in Manhattan nearly solid by randomly stalling just 20 per cent of cars during rush hour.