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Stefan Olsson via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

The Swedish Subculture Keeping 1950s America Alive

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Stefan Olsson via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Going to a raggare meet feels like stepping out of a time machine. Attendees sporting slicked-back hair and leather jackets roll up in vintage hot rods, ready to spend the day drinking beer from the can and listening to Elvis Presley. The scene could be mistaken for the American South in the 1950s, until someone opens their mouth and starts speaking Swedish.

Raggare (from the Swedish "raga," which means "to pick up girls") is one of Scandinavia’s more bizarre subcultures. It originated with Swedish teens in the 1950s as that generation’s form of rebellion. Following World War II, the neutral country was in good economic shape compared to the rest of Europe: American cultural imports flowed across the border and lower class citizens finally had the money to buy them. Rockabilly music infiltrated Sweden, and more importantly, hot rods became popular. As American cars gained favor with the youth, so did the American greaser aesthetic.

Stefan Olsson via Flickr // CC BY 2.0

But raggare differed from its U.S. counterpart in one major way. Instead of fading away from the public consciousness, it persisted as the decades progressed. In 1978, the annual Power Big Meet began as a place for raggas to get together and show off their retro vehicles. Today, the event in Västerås, Sweden is the world’s biggest classic car show.

Though the subculture is far from obscure (their numbers were estimated at half a million in 2009) it’s certainly lost the youthful vibe it had in the 1950s. Many of today's members are older and can afford to buy the cars that have shot up in value in the past 50 years. But if young raggare devotees feel excluded by the high prices of vintage cars and Swedish gas, they do have options—painting an old Volvo black and bringing it to the meet isn’t unheard of.

Stefan Olsson via Flickr// CC BY 2.0
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Driverless Cars Could Be Hacked With Stickers on Traffic Signs, Study Suggests
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Justin Sullivan/Getty Image

As driverless cars inch toward becoming regular sights on our streets, experts have started to warn that the connected cars could be vulnerable to hackers who can take control of the vehicles from a distance. Though most of these warnings are related to hacking into the internet-connected computer on board, there’s an analog way to disrupt the workings of a driverless car, too, as Autoblog reports. Researchers from across the U.S. recently figured out how to trick a driverless car with a set of stickers, as they detail in a paper posted on arXiv.org.

They examined how fiddling with the appearance of stop signs could redirect a driverless car, tricking its sensors and cameras into thinking that a stop sign is actually a speed limit sign for a 45 mile-per-hour zone, for instance.

They found that by creating a mask to cover the sign that looks almost identical to the sign itself (so a human wouldn’t necessarily notice the difference), they could fool a road-sign classifier like those used by driverless cars into misreading the sign 100 percent of the time.

Five different views of a stop sign with black and white block-shaped stickers seen from various angles and distances.

Evtimov et al., arXiv.org

In a test of a right-turn sign, a mask that filled in the arrow on the sign resulted in a 100 percent misclassification rate. In two thirds of the trials, the right-turn was misclassified as a stop sign, and in one third, it was misclassified as an added lane sign. Graffiti-like stickers that read “love” and “hate” confused the classifier into reading a stop sign as a speed limit sign the majority of the time, as did an abstract design where just a few block-shaped stickers were placed over the sign.

“We hypothesize that given the similar appearance of warning signs, small perturbations are sufficient to confuse the classifier,” they write.

The study suggests that hackers wouldn’t need much equipment to wreak havoc on a driverless car. If they knew the algorithm of the car’s visual system, they would just need a printer or some stickers to fool the car.

However, the attacks could be foiled if the cars have fail-safes like multiple sensors and take context (like whether the car is driving in a city or on a highway) into account while reading signs, as Autoblog notes.

[h/t Autoblog]

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This Just In
London is Using Imaginary Speed Bumps to Curb Speeding
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Carl Court/Getty Images

In London, excessive speeding isn’t defined in quite the same way as it is in the States. While drivers here may get ticketed in some areas for hitting 40 or 50 miles per hour on city streets, vehicles there are in danger of being ticketed for exceeding 20 miles per hour.  

To curb the problem, the city began a clever initiative 18 months ago. Rather than spend the money it would take to install real speed bumps, officials for Transport for London painted stencils on the road that give the illusion of being raised. There’s no actual bump, but drivers who anticipate going over one might wind up slowing down.

We say “might” because, as a pilot program, there’s no word yet on how effective the faux-bumps have been. London has been struggling with traffic threats, noting in 2015 that speeds needed to be reduced to 20 mph in main arteries to help reduce the number of cyclists and pedestrians injured or killed as the result of collisions. The city recorded 136 fatalities in 2015 and 2092 injuries. The hope is to cut this number by 50 percent by the end of this decade.

[h/t Fast Company]

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