Data storage

Tesla driving data storage system hacked by Dutch investigators

A team of Dutch forensic researchers has decrypted Tesla’s data storage system, providing access to a wealth of information that could be useful in accident investigations. (The news was first reported by Reuters.)

It’s no secret that Tesla records information about the driving behavior of its customers, both to improve its advanced driver assistance system, Autopilot, and also in the event of an accident, to provide it to investigators.

But researchers at the Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) found Tesla’s vehicles stored much more detailed data than previously known, including speed, gas pedal position, steering wheel angle and usage. brake. Some of this data can be stored for up to a year, the institute said.

The team was investigating an accident involving a Tesla with Autopilot in use that hit another vehicle from behind after it unexpectedly braked. Rather than searching for Tesla’s data, Dutch investigators chose to “reverse engineer” the company’s data logs in order to “objectively” assess them.

“These data contain a wealth of information for forensic investigators and traffic accident analysts and can help in a criminal investigation after a fatal traffic accident or accident with injury,” said Francis Hoogendijk, investigator digital to the NFI, in a press release.

The NFI said that while Tesla has complied with government data requests in the past, the company has also omitted a lot of data that could have been useful. “Tesla only provides a specific subset of signals, however, only those requested, for a specific time period, whereas the log files contain all recorded signals,” the NFI report said.

News of the hack could have implications for US investigators who are investigating a dozen incidents of crashes involving Tesla vehicles and emergency vehicles while Autopilot is in use. A National Traffics Highway Safety Administration spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Tesla encrypts its data to protect it from competing manufacturers. Tesla owners can request their own data from the company, including camera footage, in the event of an accident. Tesla also runs Autopilot in what it calls “ghost mode” which allows the company to collect statistical data on false positives and false negatives. In ghost mode, the car takes no action, but records when it would have acted, allowing the company’s engineering team to see if autonomous mode would have prevented accidents when they occur.

The Dutch team said it was useful to have a wider reach of Tesla’s vehicle data, especially since cars are more like other digital products with the ability to log and store information. important.

“It would be nice if this data became available more often for forensic investigations,” Hoogendijk said. “Now that we know what kind of data can be obtained from a Tesla, some data may be requested even more specifically for the purpose of uncovering the truth after an accident.”

Tesla did not respond to a request for comment. The company disbanded its press office and has not responded to media inquiries for more than two years.