The hype is sky high, but now industry analysts suggest that progress on driverless vehicles is slowing down. A chief concern is the vehicle’s ability to withstand a cyber attack. A broad range of powerful reasons are in play, and chief among them are concerns surrounding cyber disruptions to the vehicles.

“Cars, even the ones that don’t drive themselves, have already proved vulnerable to hacks,” writes The Atlantic.

To test for vulnerabilities in automated vehicles, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) has developed a fledgling protocol. The protocol specifically examines Global Positioning System (GPS) receivers.

In theory, a hacker could engage in spoofing, a method of broadcasting incorrect information to a car’s GPS, preventing a vehicle from accurately reaching its destination or worse.

On a test track, researchers found that they could hack a vehicle off of the road, which could potentially lead to life-threatening consequences for passengers.

The newly configured SwRI assessment meets US federal regulations, making it a viable method to promote across the industry. Previous testing had proven a challenge due to federal laws prohibiting certain types of over-the-air re-transmissions of GPS signals.

The spoofing test system designed by SwRI aligns a physical component, a vehicle’s GPS antenna, and a ground station. This set-up enables the system to obtain the authentic GPS communication “…from an on-vehicle antenna, [it then] processes it and inserts a spoofed signal, and then broadcasts the spoofed signal to the GPS receiver on the vehicle,” explains Science Daily.

Predictions regarding the autonomous vehicle timetable vary, but their arrival remains a long ways off. Former Head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Mark Rosekind asserts “With autonomous vehicles, the technical stuff will get worked out. It’s the societal part that’s the most challenging,” referring to issues like jaywalking, increased carbon emissions, and a reduction or increase in parking lots.

To get the full story on the future of autonomous vehicles, visit The New York Times.