A Security History of Autonomous Vehicles

This timeline provides an overview of the crashes and vulnerabilities, and technical and legal developments of Autonomous Vehicles.

This timeline was created as a forward facing project for Dr. Andrea Matwyshyn's Information Security class in Fall 2020. The goal was to synthesize existing streams of data into a more uniform and perceptible visualization with a focus on security and vulnerable systems.

1939-04-30 00:00:00

World's Fair Futurama

Norman Bel Giddes, from General Motors, introduced the world to the future of driver technology (expected in the 1960s). At the Futurama exhibit, onlookers were shown a model highway filled with driver less vehicles controlled by radio waves.

1953-02-14 10:14:06

RCA and General Motors

General Motors teamed up with Radio Corporation of America to develop scale model automated highways. In 1958, GM announced that it had successfully guided a vehicle along a one-mile stretch of road. The Firebird II was first presented in 1956 at General Motor's Motorama. The vehicle was described as having an "electronic brain."

1961-01-01 10:14:06

Stanford Cart

Sometimes referred to as the world's first truly self-driving vehicle, the cart was built by a Stanford Graduate student during the height of the space race.

1964-01-01 10:14:06

World Fair: Futurama II

At the second Futurama, GM presented to the world an automated highway concept. The concept provided a control tower to operate and steer each car on the highway, which multiple vehicles travelling in groups.

1966-08-18 08:35:15

National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act

President Lyndon B. Johnson, seeking to reduced highway accidents and provide a more comprehensive scheme of regulations, proposed the safety legislation to Congress. The enacted law gave the NHTSA authority over motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment.

1986-08-07 16:05:06

NavLab 1-11 Begins

From 1986 through to 2000, a group of researchers from Carnegie Mellon developed several prototype autonomous vehicles.

1987-01-01 10:14:06


A sedan was equipped with cameras and 60 micro-processing modules was developed by German engineer Ernst Dickmanns.

1991-11-27 00:00:00

H.R.2950 - Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991

Rep. Mineta, Norman Y. [D-CA-13] introduced this bill to the House on Jul 18, 1991. The bill became public law on Dec 18, 1991.

1995-07-07 16:05:06

NavLab 5 "No Hands Across America"

The NavLab 5 was the fifth iteration of an autonomous vehicle developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University. The 1990 Pontiac Trans Sport travelled 3,000 miles from Pittsburgh, PA to San Diego, CA.

1997-08-07 16:05:06

DEMO '97

The National Automated Highway System Consortium conducted a demonstration of the automated highway system. This was a proof of technical feasibility as required by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991.

1998-06-11 00:00:00

FCC Reserves DSRC

The FCC reserved 75 megahertz of the 5.9 GHz spectrum band to be used for highway safety and transportation into the 21st century. This section of the band creates the Dedicated Short-Range Communications (DSRC)

2004-03-13 00:24:45

DARPA Grand Challenge 2004

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency challenged racers to autonomously navigate a 142 mile track from California to Nevada. The first team to travel the distance within ten hours and meet the qualifications would be awarded $1 million.

2005-10-08 00:24:45

DARPA Grand Challenge 2005

Like the 2004 grand challenge, DARPA challenged teams to autonomously traverse a 132 mile course in Nevada.

2007-11-07 00:24:45

DARPA Grand Challenge

The third of the DARPA Grand Challenge's was titled the Urban Challenge. Unlike the previous challenges, the Urban Challenge took place on real suburban/urban roadways.

2009-01-01 00:00:00

Google Self-driving Car Project: Pribot

Google began its autonomous vehicle journey after recruiting the inventor of Google Street View and the professor from the winning team at the DARPA Grand Challenge 2005. The project later became known as Waymo.

2010-03-01 12:36:00

Hacker Disables 100 Cars Remotely

In March of 2010 a former employee at a Texas Auto Center remotely bricked over 100 cars sold from the auto center to get revenge on his former employers.

2010-09-25 00:00:00

Audi Races to the top of Pike's Peak

Audi's autonomous TTS raced up Pike's Peak in 27 minutes, landing another milestone in autonomous vehicle development.

2010-10-09 00:00:00

Google's Project travels 140,000miles

Google unveiled its quiet project testing the capabilities of its autonomous vehicle systems. The vehicles had travelled over 140,000 miles using cameras, radar, LiDAR, and detailed maps.

2011-06-21 00:00:00

VW Temporary Auto Pilot

The Executive Director of the Volkswagen Research Group presented Temporary Auto Pilot at the EU HAVEit.

2011-08-01 03:09:03

Researchers Prove Wireless Vulnerability

Remote exploitation of the wireless communication channels was proven as feasible by a set of security researchers from the University of California, San Diego and the University of Washington.

2012-09-17 18:26:06

Volvo Road-Train

Volvo Car Corporation partnered with an EU initiative called the safe road trains for the environment project (SARTRE).

2013-01-01 06:40:30

Ground Penetrating Radar

Ground Penetrating Radar is a radar system that sends pulses into the ground to view what is underneath. The technology had its first use in measuring glacier depth in 1929. Notably, the technology was also used in the 1972 Apollo 17 mission. The technology was adopted to use on vehicles by the US Military in 2013 called localized ground penetrating radar. Since 2013, two startup companies began testing the application of GPR towards autonomous vehicle development in 2020.

2013-07-01 11:19:16

Jeep Remotely Hacked

The actual date of the incident is limited to the Summer of 2013. Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek took control of a Jeep Cherokee travelling on a highway using a zero-day exploit in a test.

2013-07-12 00:00:00

VisLab - BRAiVE

The BRAiVE test vehicle successfully drove to downtown Parma, Italy without a driver marking another milestone in autonomous driving.

2015-04-15 12:38:09

Delphi Travels Cross-Country

The autonomous vehicle travelled from San Diego, California across fifteen states to New York City, New York. The total time of the trip was nine days.

2015-07-21 12:36:00

S. 1806 - SPY Car Act of 2015

On July 7, 2015 Sen. Markey, Edward J. [D-MA] introduced the SPY Car Act to the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation committee. The bill was not passed.

2015-08-01 00:00:00


The automotive information sharing and analysis center was establish in August 2015 by the automotive industry. The auto alliance formed before any autonomous vehicle crash.

2015-10-15 12:38:09

Tesla Autopilot

Tesla released the version 7.0 update that gave Autopilot features to any Model S sold since October 2014.

2016-05-07 04:07:48

Tesla Fatal Crash, Florida

On May 7, a 2015 Tesla Model S 70D struck a refrigerated truck on US Highway 27A. The driver died in the accident.

2016-09-01 21:30:44

Federal Automated Vehicles Policy: Accelerating the Next Revolution In Roadway Safety

The NHTSA created a comprehensive federal policy for Autonomous Vehicle development. The report divides the implementation and development of Autonomous Vehicles into four sections: Vehicle Performance Guidance for Automated Vehicles; Model State Policy; NHTSA’s Current Regulatory Tools; and New Tools and Authorities.

2017-04-10 18:26:06

Cadillac Super Cruise

Cadillac introduced the Super Cruise, "hands-free driving technology" on its 2018 model vehicles. The system is built around a driver-attention system using radar, GPS, cameras, and LiDAR mapping.

2017-07-25 00:00:00

H.R. 3388 (115th): SELF DRIVE Act

The bill was first introduced on July 25th, 2017 by Rep. Robert Latta (R-OH5). The bill passed the House on September 7th, 2017, but never passed the Senate.

2017-09-12 21:30:44

Automated Driving Systems 2.0: A Vision for Safety

The NHTSA revised and limited the federal regulatory role in the development and implementation of Autonomous Vehicles one year following the introduction of the first policy. The new policy sought to encourage new innovators, make Department regulation more flexible, and encourage open communication with the public and stakeholders.

2017-09-28 00:00:00

S. 1885 (115th): AV START Act

The bill was introduced on September 28th, 2017 by Sen. John Thune (R-SD). The bill did not reach the floor and no further action was taken.

2017-10-17 18:26:06

Nissan ProPilot

Nissan ProPilot is a commercially available driver assisting technology launched in 2017. Nissan calims the assist technology will be the foundation for future automotive autonomous development.

2017-11-08 01:17:42

Autonomous Shuttle Minor Accident

Navya's test shuttle, without a steering wheel, brake pedal, or accelerator was involved in a minor accident in Las Vegas, Nevada.

2018-01-22 18:27:00

Tesla Crash Firetruck

A 2014 Tesla Model S collided with a parked firetruck parked diagonally across the HOV lane. A prior accident in the HOV lane had lead to the parked fire truck and police vehicle with emergency lights engaged.

2018-03-18 00:00:00

Uber's Self-driving SUV Killed Elaine Herzberg

On March 18, 2018, Uber's test vehicle struck Elaine Herzberg at 39 mph while she was crossing the street in Tempe, Arizona. The crash was fatal.

2018-03-23 04:41:21

Tesla Fatal Crash, California

A fatal accident occurred in Mountain View, CA on March 23rd, 2018, where a driver was operating a 2017 Tesla Model X P100D. The vehicle struck a crash attenuator at 71 mph while Tesla's autopilot was in use.

2018-03-26 06:00:01

Uber Settlement for Fatal Crash

Following a fatal accident in Arizona with Uber's autonomous vehicle, the family of the decedent filed suit. The suit was settled in March, 2018.

2018-10-04 21:30:44

Preparing for the Future of Transportation: Automated Vehicles 3.0

The third update in the series of Federal policy on autonomous vehicles was provided in 2018. The goal of ADS 3.0 is to build on the previous iteration in three areas: (1) Multi-modal safety; (2) Reducing policy uncertainty; and (3) Outlining a process for working with the DOT.

2018-10-19 00:00:00

Drive.ai Self-Driving Service

Drive.ai began a self-driving vehicle service. The startup company launched its service in Arlington, Texas, intended to drive passengers around to game day.

2018-10-26 21:59:24

Tesla Navigate on Autopilot

Tesla updated its autopilot features to incorporate "navigate on autopilot." The updated software allows the vehicle to change lanes, travel from an on-ramp to an off-ramp, navigate highway interchanges, and take exits off the highway. The first iteration of the software requires driver's to manually input the command, however, the intention is to eventually allow the operator to waive the commands.

2018-12-01 21:59:24

Waymo One

Waymo launched a commercial self-driving car service in Phoenix, Arizona. The Waymo autonomous vehicle would provide self-driving service to several hundred vetted passengers. The ride included a human safety operator behind the wheel, but vehicle's software primarily drove passengers to their destination.

2019-03-01 04:41:21

Tesla Fatal Crash, Florida

A 2018 Tesla Model 3 traveling southbound on State Highway 441 struck an eastbound semi-tractor trailer. The driver of the Tesla died.

2019-04-26 06:00:01

Complaint Filed Against Tesla

The family of the driver who died in a Tesla crash in Mountain View, California filed a complaint in State court.

2019-10-24 00:00:00

Toyota E-Pallette

Toyota revealed a new concept of the E-Pallette autonomous vehicle intended to be used during the 2020 Olympics for moving athletes. The vehicle was first introduced in 2018 and developed for autonomous mobility as a service (Autono-MaaS). The system falls into SAE Level 4 autonomy.

2019-12-07 18:27:00

Tesla Crash, Police Car

A Tesla Model 3 hit the back of parked police vehicle with flashing emergency lights on the highway, while autopilot was engaged.

2019-12-23 13:17:37

Ensuring American Leadership in Automated Vehicle Technologies: Automated Vehicles 4.0

The fourth update to automated vehicle policy builds on the third in three areas: (1) USG AV Principles; (2) Administration efforts supporting AV technology growth and leadership; and (3) USG activities and opportunities for collaboration.

2019-12-29 18:27:00

Tesla Fatal Crash, Red Light

A Tesla Model S traveled through a red light and collided with another vehicle resulting in two deaths. The NHTSA is currently investigating the cause of the accident. The accident occurred in Gardena, California.

A Security History of Autonomous Vehicles

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