EXCLUSIVE Dutch Forensic Lab Says Decoded Tesla Driving Data

LONDON, Oct.21 (Reuters) – The Dutch government’s forensic laboratory on Thursday said it had deciphered the tightly watched driving data storage system of electric car maker Tesla Inc (TSLA.O), uncovering a wealth of information that could be used to investigate serious accidents.

Tesla cars were already known to store crash data, but the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) said it discovered much more data than investigators had previously.

The NFI said the decrypted data showed Tesla vehicles were storing information about the operation of its driver assistance system, known as autopilot. Vehicles also record speed, accelerator pedal position, steering wheel angle and brake usage, and depending on vehicle usage, this data can be stored for over a year.

“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 with injuries,” said Francis Hoogendijk, investigator digital to the NFI, in a statement.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Dutch lab said that instead of looking for data from Tesla, it has “reverse engineered” data logs – a process in which software is deconstructed to extract information – present in Tesla vehicles “in order to investigate them objectively “.


The NFI investigated a collision involving a Tesla driver using autopilot and a car in front of him that suddenly braked hard.

Investigation showed that the Tesla driver reacted within the expected response time to a warning to regain control of the car, but the collision occurred because the Tesla was too closely following the other vehicle in a heavy traffic.

“That makes it interesting, because who is responsible for the next distance: the car or the driver?” NFI investigator Aart Spek said.

The NFI said Tesla is encrypting its coded driving data to protect its technology from other manufacturers and protect driver privacy. Car owners can request their data, including camera images, in the event of an accident.

Earlier this year, Tesla said it set up a site in China to store car data locally, as automakers were increasingly monitored on how they handled information collected by vehicle cameras and sensors. . Read more


The NFI found that Tesla complied with Dutch authorities’ data requests, but omitted a lot of data that could have been useful.

“Tesla, however, only provides a specific subset of signals, only those requested, for a specific period, while the log files contain all of the recorded signals,” the NFI report said.

By cracking Tesla’s code, the NFI now knows more about what type of data the automaker is storing and for how long, allowing more detailed data requests, Hoogendijk said.

“You can’t claim what you don’t know, so it helps that we now know what else is stored,” he said.

Hoogendijk added that this also applies to other automakers, as investigators are simply not sure how much and what type of data the manufacturers store and for how long.

Tesla has remote access to data, the lab said, which is periodically downloaded from cars and used by the company to improve products or correct malfunctions.

The NFI said it obtained data from the mainstream Tesla Models S, Y, X and Model 3 and shared the results at a European Association for Accident Research conference for other crash analysts. can use them.

In August, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched a formal safety investigation into Tesla’s autopilot system in 765,000 U.S. vehicles after a series of crashes involving Tesla models and motor vehicles. ’emergency.

To date, NHTSA has identified 12 crashes involving Tesla vehicles using advanced driver assistance systems and emergency vehicles. NHTSA said most of the incidents took place after dark.

Reporting by Nick Carey; Editing by Bernadette Baum

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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