Dutch government decrypts Tesla autopilot data


The Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI), an organization funded by the Dutch government, claims to have deciphered driving data related to Tesla’s autopilot. This gave it access to data on speed, accelerator pedal position and steering wheel angle.

The Dutch government says this will allow investigators working on wrecks involving Tesla vehicles to request “more targeted data” on the cause of the wrecks.

Officials already suspect the autopilot was involved in several rescue vehicle wrecks, calling into question its ability to detect a stationary vehicle with emergency lights activated. However, the autopilot has also been ruled out as a contributory cause of a wreck in Texas that killed two men in April.

Researchers from the Netherlands Forensic Institute presented their results at the 29th annual congress of the European Association for Accident Research.

They compared the driving data obtained through their decryption efforts with real driving data from a Tesla Model S and found that the two results did not differ much more than 1 km / h (approx. 0.6 MPH).

They also analyzed some driving data from previous accidents and found that the autopilot occasionally made mistakes, e.g. B. to follow another vehicle that suddenly braked too hard. In such cases the driver reacted correctly, but the autopilot made the mistake.

They said about the results:

“This data contains a wealth of information for forensic investigators and traffic accident analysts and can be useful in criminal investigations into a fatal traffic accident or a personal injury accident.”

The NFI researchers say the ability for third parties to decipher the data will enable more detailed research by giving them a better understanding of the data that automakers who develop driver assistance programs like the autopilot are storing.

Tesla recently encrypted autopilot-related data to protect its intellectual property and protect user privacy. The company has provided data to the authorities to support the accident investigations. Consumer groups like Consumer Reports have also raised concerns about the data Tesla’s indoor cameras can send to a remote location.

Elon Musk announced last month that Tesla would work with regulators to improve data security. He expressed concern that hackers could gain access to Tesla’s computerized systems after the Arson Cats hacktivist group accessed security cameras in a variety of facilities, including one used by a Tesla supplier in China.

“With the rapid growth of autonomous driving technologies, vehicle data security is attracting more public concern than ever,” he told the audience at the World New Energy Vehicle Congress.

Hackers can also install malware and ransomware into the computerized systems of a vehicle equipped with driver assistance programs. In some extreme cases, once fully autonomous driving becomes the norm, malicious actors can take control of a vehicle to ram it into inbound traffic or a group of pedestrians, and there is nothing the passengers on that vehicle can do about it.

This may be worrying that the Dutch Forensic Institute has made public that driving data related to the autopilot can be deciphered, even though NFI says its goal was to improve investigators’ efforts to “reveal the truth after an accident Find”.

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