With drivers claiming cars are speeding out of control before a crash, automakers have been looking into car behavior and gathering information on their operating system for the past ten years.
But Tesla seems to have taken data collection a bit too far as its cars send information on what they are doing and where they are straight to the electric carmaker at any time. This capability gives the brand the information on location for over billions of miles covered by its cars, with travel patterns stored by the Autopilot self-driving software, which is officially still in beta version. What you might not know is that this function allows Tesla to look at the controls a driver makes before a crash.
In a recent case involving a new 2016 Tesla Model X, its owner said that the car “suddenly and unexpectedly accelerated at high speed on its own, climbing over 39 feet of planters and crashing into a building.” What did Tesla do? It analyzed the car’s operating data and the following day it denied the owner’s claim. It explained that the log data from the car showed that the owner was in fact accelerating, and not braking. The driver who had owned the Model X electric SUV for five days was not aware of the fact that Tesla could, however, get access to its car’s operating data non stop.
This is what Tesla Motors does at the moment to somehow emulate the black boxes used in airplanes, only that it is actually a step forward, monitoring data at any time from its cars. How legal is it? It’s part of the purchase and of course drivers agree to it, without reading too carefully the Privacy and Legal terms. Here’s how Tesla informs its customers of their somewhat invasive technology placed in the electric cars:
“Other vehicle data: In order to help improve our products and services, we may collect and store data about accidents involving your Tesla vehicle (such as air bag deployment) and the following types of data: data about remote services (such as remote lock/unlock, start/stop charge, and honk-the-horn commands); a data report to confirm that your vehicle is online together with information about the current software version and certain telematics data; data about any issues that could materially impair operation of your vehicle; data about any safety‐critical issues; and data about each software and firmware update. We may collect such information either in person (e.g., during a service appointment) or via remote access.”
If you want to purchase a Tesla car in the near future, just be ready to be tracked and followed any place you go, from behind the Tesla curtains.