Tesla Testing More Autonomous Driving Features With Secret Upgrades Sent To Cars

Tesla

MAY 26 2016 BY STEVEN LOVEDAY 56

Tesla Model S On Autopilot

Tesla Model S On Autopilot

Tesla Motors has a system incorporated into all vehicles that allows for “over-the-air” software updates. This means that not only can the company correct problems on all vehicles via wireless updates, but also Tesla can collect data to assist with future technology. Autonomous driving software can be loaded (even privately) in order to test its capabilities in relation to drivers habits and traffic and road conditions. Moreover, Tesla can test it even if it’s not driving the vehicle.

Google Flagship Autonomous Driving Car

Google Flagship Autonomous Driving Car

With this unique ability, Tesla can rise to the forefront of other automakers in its goal to assure that autonomous driving technology can become a reality on public roads. With the “real-time” data that Tesla collects, aside from helping the company progress its efforts, it will be easier to persuade government regulators to back autonomous technology. Sterling Anderson, director of Tesla’s Autopilot program said:

“The ability to pull high-resolution data from these vehicles and to update the vehicles over the air is a significant part of what’s allowed us in 18 months to go from very behind the curve to what is today one of the more advanced autonomous or semi-autonomous driving features.”

In 2014, Tesla started this process by installing 12 new ultrasonic sensors into its production vehicles. The sensors were reported to be part of an emergency braking system. However, Tesla was “thinking-forward” and has actually been using the sensors, along with cameras and radars to stream data to the company about how that units are functioning and sensing objects in regards to autonomous driving. Anderson explained:

“We will often install an ‘inert’ feature on all our vehicles worldwide. That allows us to watch over tens of millions of miles how a feature performs.”

“Since introducing this hardware 18 months ago we’ve accrued 780 million miles. We can use all of that data on our servers to look for how people are using our cars and how we can improve things.”

He added that Tesla is receiving about a million miles worth of new data every 10 hours. The data is used to assess the autonomous driving software. Following the assessments, Tesla can use the over the air feature to “secretly” install additional software to be able to watch over how it performs comparatively. Even though the software isn’t detected by the user, and has no bearing or control over the driving experience, it can still aid Tesla in its further development.

Other companies like Google (Alphabet) and Uber are currently testing autonomous driving technology. Unlike Tesla, Google and others are only able to process saved “public” data from prototype fleets. Much of the testing is done in closed areas and only some is achieved on public roads. GM is also testing the technology, but without over the air abilities and model wide internet connections, the data is not much like what Tesla is collecting and utilizing.

Overall, Anderson and Tesla are very excited and optimistic about this situation and its benefits. Understanding drivers’ habits, road and traffic conditions, and regularly assessing the autonomous driving technology’s strengths and weaknesses can only help the process. Anderson was adamant to remind drivers:

“Autopilot is not an autonomous system and should not be treated as one. We ask drivers to keep their hands on [the wheel] and be prepared to take over.”

Sources: Technology Review, Green Car Reports

Categories: Tesla

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56 Comments on "Tesla Testing More Autonomous Driving Features With Secret Upgrades Sent To Cars"

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Four Electrics
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Four Electrics

My understanding is that this system is passive. Tesla can upload new software and run it live, but as it’s not controlling the car, the candidate software can only collect data, not take action and evaluate the effects of its actions. Is that accurate?

Brian
Guest
Brian

Like can they remote control the car like a life sized toy?

I know for a fact they can shut the power off remotely and stop a car chase… but take the car over and steer it? It has no live feed cameras for them to be able to control the car safely.

Waiting
Guest
Waiting

I am anxiously awaiting my model 3. I would love it if Tesla’s software updates were processed more like Apple’s updates for their iPhone’s. The iPhone owner has the option to accept the upgrade or not. Nothing is automatic!!!! Automatic updates are just a little too Big Brother!

MDEV
Guest
MDEV

I disagree because automobile updates involved the safety of the owner and the public, if you opt-out iPhone update you won’t hurt anyone.

arne-nl
Guest
arne-nl

These are not real updates. The ‘inert’ code never changes the behaviour of the car, it only logs what it *would* do in a certain situation and that data is compared to what actually happened (either by control of the live autopilot software or the driver), to determine if it is an improvement or not. If so, it will find its way into a ‘real’ software update.

See it as an advanced data acquisition tool.

zzzzzzzzzz
Guest
zzzzzzzzzz

It has autopilot. They can summon a car to Tesla headquarters if you post something bad about Musk. And lock doors on the way, it is all controlled by software 😉 Seriously, not in this version. But when cars will be autonomous, why not.

Terawatt
Guest
Terawatt

That’s how I understood it too. Presumably this is useful primarily to identify when the driver takes actions that differ much from the autopilot.

evcarstugatso
Guest
evcarstugatso

THE IDEA OF THESE GUYS MESSING WITH MY CAR WITHOUT ME KNOWING IS REALLY STARTING TO PISS ME 0ff..THEY DO WHATEVER THEY WANT WITH SOMEONE ELSE’S “Bought & paid for” CAR &**** WITHOUT THE OWNER KNOWING IT, OR even BEING MADE AWARE of the fact…THEY ARE “SECRETLY RUNNING PEOPLE’S LIVES” & MAKING ALL THE OWNER’S DECISION FOR THEM…I CAN JUST ONLY IMAGINE ALL THE OTHER THINGS THEY CAN DO SECRETLY & WITHOUT NOTICE…I’M NOT LIKING THIS WHOLE TESLA DICTATORSHIP AS I WATCH IT INCREASINGLY & PROGRESSIVELY UNRAVEL …I AM SERIOUSLY RE-CONSIDERING “WHERE TO SHOP”…I am “not” going to pay all this money to throw my privacy out the window in order to own such a car.. In My opinion these guys have & will continue to totally destroy & Expose everyone’s privacy forever! I would be apprehensive about conversing in my own car…THIS MAKES N0 SENSE…..

AlanSqB
Guest
AlanSqB

If you own any mid to luxury level car that was made in the last 5 years, surprise! They know everything. GPS logging, speed data, braking, how many times you rolled down the windows.

Get over it or buy a used, base model Honda Civic.

evcarstugatso
Guest
evcarstugatso

we are like sheep being led to the slaughter..

RexxSee
Guest
RexxSee

The difference between Capitalism and Communism?
Instead of being consciously forced, the corporate media and governments propaganda sheppards lead us nicely with a little pat on the side from time to time straight to the same slaugterhouse. Capitalism won because people are willingly giving more of their time and energy with “American Dream” properity promises…

“They call it American Dream ’cause you’ve got to be asleep to believe it” – George Carlin

evcarstugatso
Guest
evcarstugatso

So True…..

Dyslexic
Guest
Dyslexic

Your keyboard seems to be broken.

evcarstugatso
Guest
evcarstugatso

maybe…..

Woody Miraglia
Guest
Woody Miraglia

Keyboard and brain, I would add.

RexxSee
Guest
RexxSee

Microsoft Operating System? OSX? Android. Forget it, the secret cervices and marketeers are all collecting all you type and do with your forever connected devices…

But I suspect you already know all of this ans only attempt to scare the unsuspecting occasional reader with FUD against Tesla.

Mitchell Burns
Guest
Mitchell Burns

So please save your privacy, your money, and throw yourself out the window.

MDEV
Guest
MDEV

You need to sell your smart TV, smart cellphone, computers, never use a credit card, no bank account, never move to an apartment complexes “they sale your info to marketers” well we have no privacy or saying.

EV Driver
Guest
EV Driver

Umm.. no one if forcing updates on you. You are free to use your car without every receiving an update. Or you can use features like auto-pilot that require constant updating. That is your choice.

Martin Winlow
Guest
Martin Winlow

An owner has to actively trigger a software upgrade once it arrives at their car.

I don’t remember ever agreeing to Tesla loading ‘hidden software’ on the car for whatever reason though it is quite possible that I did as I really couldn’t care less. Anything Tesla does to advance autonomous driving is good in my book. The sooner we all embrace this technology the sooner hundreds of thousands of deaths (let alone the countless millions more serious injuries) on our roads every year will finally come (almost) to an end.

Steven
Guest
Steven

If you read the EULA, I’m sure you’ll see something about “collecting anonymous data from the vehicle”.

Where does that data come from?

Paul Stoller
Guest
Paul Stoller

I really don’t like the idea of having non-safety related updates being sent to me without my consent.

This sort of thing does not have zero risk, if I own the vehicle it should be my choice.

Tom K
Guest
Tom K

“”There is nothing wrong with your television. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are now in control of the transmission. We control the horizontal and the vertical……”

vdiv
Guest
vdiv

Nice! 🙂
Too bad we can’t get television on that screen/Dolby surround sound.

Someone out there
Guest
Someone out there

So essentially, Tesla silently installs spyware in their customers’ cars? Can you opt out of this?

vdiv
Guest
vdiv

Yes, you can trade it in for a Jolt 😉

William
Guest
William

Who wants to trade in any car, for some “Vaporware” or a super caffeinated Cola drink?

Tom K
Guest
Tom K

“Resistance is futile…”

evcarstugatso
Guest
evcarstugatso

JUST say N0! Refuse to participate ! Shop Elsewhere..

AlanSqB
Guest
AlanSqB

Just build a Faraday cage in your garage. Park your Tesla in there and never take it out. Problem solved!

evcarstugatso
Guest
evcarstugatso

Better still Eliminate All Worries & Save $100,000Plus storage & insurance fees .. & Just don’t buy one …

Mitchell Burns
Guest
Mitchell Burns

Please do

Steven
Guest
Steven

Sure, it’s easy.

Don’t buy a Tesla.

Phr≡d
Guest
Phr≡d

uhmmm.. 100,000 miles an hour? Tesla owners drive a Lot I see..

evcarstugatso
Guest
evcarstugatso

Maybe Tesla owners Bull**** A lot too!…. lol…

Anon
Guest
Anon

Kettle, very very black.

Already tired of your uninformed paranoia / FUD.

Martin Winlow
Guest
Martin Winlow

Given that there are over 100 thousand Teslas out there now, I don’t think it is unreasonable that, on average, each is doing one mile each hour. In fact that ties in nicely with the average car mileage for the US being about 30 miles a day – a bit less here in the UK.

vdiv
Guest
vdiv

“Data, data on the Wi-Fi, who’s the best Autopilot of them all?”

There probably is a hidden switch to select which version of Autopilot is currently in control for a true A/B testing, similar to the performance selector unearthened a few weeks ago.

ffbj
Guest
ffbj

All your drivings are belong to Musk.

Matt
Guest
Matt

lol

AlanSqB
Guest
AlanSqB

Newest Tesla Accessory: Tin-Foil hat to place over the cellular antenna to block signals from the mothership.

Heisenberghtbacktotheroots
Guest
Heisenberghtbacktotheroots

Great! You belong to us 😉

evcarstugatso
Guest
evcarstugatso

NOT IF I CAN HELP IT !!

Anon
Guest
Anon

It is good that most people act rationally to change, instead of freaking out and Rage-FUDing a blog thread on a topic they clearly don’t fully comprehend.

Mitchell Burns
Guest
Mitchell Burns

What a group with the exception of a few, you are completely out of your minds. You sound like a bunch of illiterates.
And for the guy who loves his caplocks, DONT BUY ONE DO US ALL A FAVOR.

AlanSqB
Guest
AlanSqB

Well I have most certainly lost my mind, years ago. However, how dare you call me illiterate sir. I bite my thumb at you sir.

Acevolt
Guest
Acevolt

If you don’t want Tesla to mess with your car, disconnect the cellular antenna.
Problem solved.

You should also disconnect from the Internet and only use cash if you want to be completely anonymous.

Anon
Guest
Anon

*Psst*

I hear tinfoil hats work! 😉

zzzzzzzzzz
Guest
zzzzzzzzzz

BEEP BEEP. Network interference detected. Engaging into limp mode for security reasons until network coverage is restored. BEEP.

Loboc
Guest
Loboc

GM has been gathering data for years on all OnStar equipped vehicles. Longer than poor little Tesla. Probably 1000x data. If they have less than a yottabyte I’d be seriously disappointed.

Paul Stoller
Guest
Paul Stoller

I have no problem with them collecting data, I have a problem with non security related updates to the cars software being pushed out without my consent. Any such program like this should be entirely opt in.

Acevolt
Guest
Acevolt

A pop up message might be a good idea asking to opt in to collect you data and help Tesla improve auto-pilot. Sort of like when an application on your computer crashes and a message pops up asking if your willing to send the information to Microsoft or Apple.

Hari
Guest
Hari

Then you will have people whining about having to click on a pop up every time they have to go somewhere. Whining = given.

Just sayin!

Martin Winlow
Guest
Martin Winlow

Woopy-do. Even assuming you are right, what have they done with it? Your comment is as pointless as GM’s collection of data!

sveno
Guest
sveno

I agree that transparency would be the best option here – educate your drivers/owners, don’t leave them in the dark. I am ok with data being collected/changed when I have the visibility into it.

Don’t make this like Microsoft/Intel where they basically say you are stupid and they must be in control at all times to protect you from the bad guys.

EV Driver
Guest
EV Driver

This article is very poorly written. There is nothing secret about these updates and they are part of the agreement Tesla has with anyone who signs up for the auto-pilot beta.

Now there is an entire comment thread about people thinking they are getting software updates they didn’t approve. Good job InsideEVs