Researchers tricked a Tesla into speeding up 50 mph using just a piece of tape

McAfee was able to make two cars misread speed limit signs.

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Tesla's autopilot mode has been undone by a two-inch piece of tape. McAfee researchers were able to trick a 2016 Tesla Model X and Model S into accelerating 50 mph by slightly manipulating a speed limit sign. The small piece of tape was placed on a 35 mph sign to extend the middle line of the "3." This was enough to fool the camera systems into thinking it was an "8," as both vehicles sped up to 85 mph while using the "cruise control" feature.


A fix should be coming — McAfee published its findings on its blog and alerted Tesla to the issue. While Tesla didn't respond to McAfee's request for comment, it did say it would work to fix the issue.

"We are not trying to spread fear and say that if you drive this car, it will accelerate into through a barrier, or to sensationalize it," researcher Steve Povolny told MIT Technology Review. "The reason we are doing this research is we're really trying to raise awareness for both consumers and vendors of the types of flaws that are possible."

A possible flaw in the research — McAfee also shared its findings with MobilEye EyeQ3, the company that provides Tesla its cameras. It disputes McAfee's findings and says that the older cameras weren't designed for fully autonomous driving. Newer models have different cameras and will reportedly use crowdsourced maps as additional support.

A spokesperson said this trick could also fool the human eye. Take a look at the photo above and imagine how quickly you look at a speed limit sign. That's probably fair.