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Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI)

Dutch forensic lab claims it has decoded Tesla’s driving data

The Dutch government’s Netherlands Forensic Institute (NFI) claims it had decrypted Tesla Inc’s closely guarded driving data storage system, revealing a share of information that could be used to investigate serious accidents.

It was well known that the cars of the automaker store data from accidents, but NFI said it had discovered far more data than investigators know before.

The NFI said the decrypted data shows Tesla’s vehicles collect information about the operation of its driver’s Autopilot. The vehicles also keep records of speed, accelerator pedal position, steering wheel angle, and brake usage, and depending on how the vehicle is used, that information can be stored for more than a year.

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

The Dutch lab said instead of seeking the data from Tesla, it had “reverse engineered” data logs – a process where software is deconstructed to extract data – present in Tesla vehicles “in order to objectively investigate them”.

The NFI said the automaker encrypts its coded driving data to keep its technology secure from other automakers and protect driver privacy. Vehicle owners are allowed to ask for their data, including camera footage, in the event of a crash.

Tesla is yet to comment on these claims of NFI.

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