Tesla’s closely watched driving data has been decrypted for the first time, according to a forensic lab run by the Dutch government. The Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) has stated that it discovered a wealth of information on Tesla’s autopilot, plus data on speed, accelerator pedal positions, steering wheel angle and more. The results will allow the government to “request more targeted data” to help determine the cause of the crashes, investigators said.
Researchers already knew that Tesla vehicles encrypt and store crash data, but not what data and how much. As such, they reverse engineered the system and were able to “get data from the S, Y, X and 3 models,” which they described in a paper presented at a conference on accident analysis.
This data contains a wealth of information for forensic investigators and traffic accident analysts and can aid in a criminal investigation after a fatal traffic accident or an accident causing injury.
Knowing how to decipher the storage, the NFI ran tests with a Tesla Model S so they could compare the logs with real-world data. He found that the vehicle logs were “very accurate”, with deviations of less than 1 km / h (around 0.6 MPH).
The INS also analyzed several accidents using the raw data it acquired. In one case, a Tesla on autopilot collided with a car in front that suddenly braked. Normally, if the autopilot does not brake in time, the driver is supposed to take over.
“In this case, the investigation showed that the driver did well and also within the expected response times,” said researcher Aart Spek. “The fact that this is a collision is due to the fact that the following distance [chosen by Autopilot] was too tight in the heavy traffic situation. This makes it interesting, because who is responsible for the next distance: the car or the driver? ”
Previously, it was possible to extract data from the autopilot of Tesla electric vehicles, but it is now encrypted in recent models, investigators said. Tesla encrypts data for good reason, they admitted, including protecting its own IP address from other manufacturers and protecting a driver’s privacy. He also noted that the company provides specific data to authorities and investigators upon request.
However, the team said the additional data extracted would allow more detailed crash investigations, “particularly on the role of driver assistance systems.” He added that it would be ideal to know if other manufacturers stock the same level of detail for long periods of time. “If we knew better what data the automakers all store, we will also be able to make more targeted complaints to the courts or to the prosecution,” said Frances Hoogendijk, NFI investigator. “And ultimately it serves the interest of finding the truth after an accident.”
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