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Government Lab Decrypts Tesla Driving Data

Researchers said the information could help with accident investigations, including those involving Autopilot.

In the seven years since Tesla first debuted the advanced driver-assist technology known as Autopilot, the system has made headlines over everything from ill-advised driver behavior to deadly crashes.

In the U.S., federal highway regulators just weeks ago opened an investigation of Autopilot after a series of crashes involving Teslas and emergency vehicles parked on roadsides.

Other nations, of course, have their own incidents to look into — and one, according to Reuters, took a particularly aggressive strategy.

The investigation began after a Tesla in the Netherlands — with Autopilot on and, apparently, following too closely behind another car — was involved in a rear-end collision.

Tesla’s cars collect and store driving data in order to make improvements or fix potential problems, but the company encrypts it to protect drivers’ privacy and keep it out of the hands of its rivals. It’s available, by request, to owners and the authorities, but Dutch officials said important details were left out.

So the government’s forensic scientists uncovered it themselves.

The Netherlands Forensic Institute said that in order to “objectively investigate” Tesla, it reverse-engineered and decrypted the company’s driving data — and discovered that the company stored much more information than previously known. The data included details about Autopilot use, as well as vehicle speed, pedal position, steering and braking — for over a year, in some cases.

The agency shared the information about the Tesla models at a European auto safety conference in hopes that it will enable analysts to better investigate crashes involving those vehicles.

Tesla, as usual, did not respond to the Reuters story.

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