Tesla asks drivers to help it “make self-driving a reality”
Dear customer, here’s your Autopilot update…oh and also, can we use your video data?
While Tesla vehicle owners may have welcomed the latest update to the Autopilot feature that removed certain restrictions, the update to the data sharing policy may not have been quite as well received.
The electric car-maker clearly wants to leverage its large fleet of vehicles to gather as much data as it possibly can to inform its autonomous driving program. To this end, it is asking its drivers to give permission to collect more video data from the eight cameras which are part of the sensor suite of the second generation Autopilot. In a message to its customers it stated that this was necessary in order to make self-driving a reality:
“We need to collect short video clips using the car’s external cameras to learn how to recognize things like lane lines, street signs, and traffic light positions. The more fleet learning of road conditions we are able to do, the better your Tesla’s self-driving ability will become.”
Raising obvious questions of data privacy, Tesla was quick to put customers’ concerns to rest – or at least attempt to do so. It reassured them that the video clips would not be linked to their vehicle identification number and that there would be “no way to search our system for clips that are associated with a specific car”. However, Tesla says it may share some of the video data it collects with partners and suppliers.
This move follows shortly after a software update for all vehicles equipped with Autopilot 2.0 – a driver assistance system with level 2 automation. The changes concern Autosteer, the Autopilot’s main autonomous feature. The speed limit up until which the feature can be used has been increased from 80mph (128 km/h) to 90 mph (145 km/h). On top of that, the off-highway speed limit – previously set at 35 mph (56 km/h) has been removed completely.
Tesla has clearly not been deterred in moving forward by the much publicized fatal crash for which the NHTSA found that the car-maker was not at fault.