An internal report with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the US is believed to have identified self-driving cars as a potential weapon for terrorists.
The restricted but not classified information was reportedly obtained by The Guardian following a request for public records, with the internal report suggesting autonomous cars could aid both criminals and law enforcement.
For criminals, an autonomous car could allow them to operate a firearm with almost full concentration while a getaway vehicle drives itself.
More extreme cases could see a car packed with explosives, before it drives itself to a target area and detonates.
A car with no driver would attract much attention today, but as future autonomous cars drive around city centres looking for parking spaces while empty, the lead-up to a future attack of this nature would likely go unnoticed.
Smarter criminals may also override pre-programed safety features to enable their self-driven car to ignore traffic signals such as red lights, knowing every other autonomous car on the road will take action automatically to avoid a collision.
The report is also believed to contain details for the future use of autonomous cars in high-speed police chases, lowering the risk to officers and the public while maintaining a policy of catching drivers who attempt to outpace the long arm of the law.
Emergency services could arrive at their destination earlier if all cars were autonomous, and the need for such services would decrease if vehicles were no longer involved in collisions.
A surveillance car may be able to follow its target with a greater degree of stealth, as technology allows it to follow another car from a further distance and even use different roads to arrive at the same destination.
The FBI reportedly believes autonomous cars could be approved for use on public roads in the US within five to seven years.