Tesla's hiding something.
Autonomous cars are a hot topic at the moment, and many major manufacturers are making big strides in the quest for self-driving vehicles. One of the biggest contenders has to be Tesla, the world's leading EV manufacturer. It is common knowledge that Tesla cars record data to improve its 'Autopilot' semi-autonomous driving system, but the data has always been a closely guarded secret, until now.
The Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) this week managed to decrypt Tesla's driving data storage system. The Dutch government has stated that this info can go a long way into solving serious accidents involving Tesla cars, of which there have been numerous.
The NFI's decrypted data shows that Tesla records data such as brake usage, speed, accelerator pedal position and steering wheel angle, and that this data can be stored for up to a year. "This data contains a wealth of information for forensic investigators and traffic accident analysts and can help with a criminal investigation after a fatal traffic accident or an accident with injury," Francis Hoogendijk, a digital investigator at the NFI, said in a statement.
The mission to decrypt the guarded data was spurred on by an investigation into a collision involving a car on Autopilot that had to avoid a car. The Autopilot system is available on the entry-level Tesla Model 3, up to the Model S Plaid. The NFI's investigation revealed that despite the acceptable reaction time of the Tesla driver, the car itself had been following the other vehicle too closely.
Tesla might encrypt its data to keep competitors from gaining an unfair advantage, but the manufacturer still makes it available to drivers in the case of an accident. Tesla has recently established a site in China where this type of data is stored for easy access, but the Dutch authorities found that Tesla leaves out important info when making crash data available to the public.
"Tesla however only supplies a specific subset of signals, only the ones requested, for a specific timeframe, whereas the log files contain all the recorded signals," the NFI's report said. The ability to decrypt Tesla data gives crash investigators, insurance companies, and the law a better understanding of what goes on in the case of an accident.
The NFIs findings obtained from Tesla Models S,X, Y and Model 3 cars have been shared at a recent European Association for Accident Research summit. The NHTSA will be following these developments closely, as it has been conducting several investigations into local accidents involving Tesla vehicles using the Autopilot system. No wonder people doubt the safety of self-driving cars.