Researchers Find Computer Code that Volkswagen Used to Cheat Emissions Tests

An international team of researchers has uncovered the mechanism that allowed Volkswagen to circumvent U.S. and European emission tests over at least six years before the Environmental Protection Agency put the company on notice in 2015 for violating the Clean Air Act. During a year-long investigation, researchers found code that allowed a car’s onboard computer to determine that the vehicle was undergoing an emissions test. The computer then activated the car’s emission-curbing systems, reducing the amount of pollutants emitted. Once the computer determined that the test was over, these systems were deactivated. When the emissions curbing system wasn’t running, cars emitted up to 40 times the amount of nitrogen oxides allowed under EPA regulations. The team, led by Kirill Levchenko, a computer scientist at the University of California San Diego will present their findings at the 38th IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy in the San Francisco Bay Area on May 22 to 24, 2017.”

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