DRIVERLESS motors could be hacked and forced to crash causing deadly gridlocks around the world.
Emergency services responding to critical situations would be stuck in traffic if self-driving cars were overridden by cyber criminals.
A recent study by the Georgia Institute of Technology and Multiscale Systems revealed the potentially deadly consequences of hacking driverless vehicles in big cities, like London and New York.
During the investigation, the researchers simulated what would happen to traffic if streets were overridden with disabled motors.
And they found that shutting down just 20 per cent of on-road vehicles could cause a “total traffic freeze”.
This could mean fatal crashes and people being rushed to hospital could get stuck in heavy traffic with no way out.
Even cities like New York, which are built on a grid system to help ease congestion, wouldn’t be able to cope with dangerous levels of congestion.
Peter Yunker, assistant professor and study co-leader, said: “Unlike most of the data breaches we hear about, hacked cars have physical consequences.
“‘Manhattan has a nice grid, and that makes traffic more efficient.
“Looking at cities without large grids like Atlanta, Boston, or Los Angeles, and we think hackers could do worse harm because a grid makes you more robust with redundancies to get to the same places down many different routes.”
Jesse Silverberg, co-lead of the study, said: “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.”