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Jeep Cherokee Hackers Join Uber To Make Its Autonomous Car Technology Hack-Proof

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They got Chrysler's attention when they hacked a Jeep Cherokee and they likely prompted Uber to take notice. Uber just recruited cybersecurity researchers Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller, as the ridesharing network experiments with driverless cars.

Miller left his post at Twitter and Valesek quit cybersecurity firm IOActive to join Uber's Advanced Technologies Center. Raffi Krikorian, head of the Advanced Technologies Center and a former Twitter employee, tweeted out a welcome to Valesek and Miller.

The duo will join the company's top senior security officers "to continue building out a world-class safety and security program at Uber," an Uber spokeswoman said.

Last month, Miller and Valesek promoted Chrysler to recall 1.4 million Jeep Cherokee vehicles when the pair proved that they could hack into the automobiles remotely. The pair hacked into a Jeep Cherokee that was travelling at 70 MPH, with volunteer Andy Greenberg, of Wired, behind the wheel.

While traveling in the Jeep near downtown St. Louis, Valesek and Miller went to work on the vehicle.

"As the two hackers remotely toyed with the air-conditioning, radio, and windshield wipers, I mentally congratulated myself on my courage under pressure," Greenberg wrote. "That's when they cut the transmission. Immediately my accelerator stopped working."

The hiring of the two hackers comes just days after Uber announced that it had partnered with the University of Arizona. Uber gets a home for mapping research vehicles and the university gets a $25,000 donation to its school of optical sciences.

The collaborative effort will start with lens design, with the ultimate goal of improving machine vision for driverless cars, according to Brian McClendon, Uber's vice president of advanced technologies and former executive from Google's mapping division.

"It's to get detail like street names, street address, or more importantly things like the depth of potholes, being able to read the exact geometry of the world around you and determining if it is part of your environment or a dynamic object that will be here today and gone tomorrow, and we need to know how to react to that," said McClendon.

So while researchers at the University of Arizona will aid in improving image scanning and object identification for driverless cars, Miller and Valesek will work on measures to keep hackers from driving autonomous vehicles remotely.

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