Tesla forward looking cameras - Autopilot 2.0 hardware

Tesla asking customers to share external camera video clips to improve Autopilot safety

Apr 18, 2018 | by Iqtidar Ali

Tesla’s latest vehicle software update version 2018.14.1 is rolling out for the customers — as is the norm, the software update process works in batches which results in some owners getting the update sooner and some after a few days and weeks.

Tesla owners are reporting that the latest update is asking them to opt-in for ‘Vehicle Data Sharing’ (screenshot below) which includes short video clips that are captured through external cameras.

The following screenshot of the ‘video clip sharing opt-in/out dialogue box’ is shared by ‘u/dirtyfries/Tesla-Subreddit’ taken from his Tesla Model 3 (full text below).

Tesla Autopilot video clip sharing opt-in/out dialogue box screenshot.
Tesla Autopilot video clip sharing opt-in/out dialogue box screenshot.

As we can see this video clip sharing is optional and asks explicit human permission to enable the feature. As Tesla suggests in the prompt, this data will be used for improving Autopilot safety and enhance the learning of Artificial Intelligence of the entire Tesla fleet.

The fleet-wide learning and data collection of Tesla vehicles is not a new phenomenon it’s as old as the advent of Autopilot 1.0 — the reason for informing the owners and taking express permission to record and upload video data seems to be amid the internet privacy crisis hitting technology giants recently.

Also the recent fatal crash of a Tesla Model X while it was on Autopilot seems to have forced Tesla to take new measures in improving the safety to a new level.

If most of the users opt-in for the video sharing option of their vehicles — the amount of data that Tesla can gather for it’s Autopilot AI machine learning would be huge as earlier this month Tesla was producing 4,000 vehicles per week equipped with Autopilot 2.0 hardware.

If Tesla is able to reach their production goals this year, hundreds of thousands of new vehicles (each equipped with 8 external cameras — see AP 2.0 Hardware illustration below) will be added every year to the fleet and sending back ginormous amounts of video-clip data back to Tesla servers for Autopilot learning, this should significantly improve the Autopilot safety in my opinion.

Tesla vehicle owners who willingly opt-out of this program will still be sending data to Tesla servers but not the video clips and this will not mean they won’t get the benefit of the enhanced Autopilot safety over time.

Autopilot Hardware 2.5 Tesla Vehicles - Full Self-Driving Capability Infographic

So are you willing to opt in for this option or you will opt out of the video clip sharing from your vehicle even after Tesla stressing that this data will be anonymized and will never be linked to your vehicle? You can share your concerns in the comments section below.

Although it’s unclear that these video clips will temporarily be saved on the vehicle’s computer until they are sent to the data-center just in-case of unavailability of an internet connection, also the customer will bear the data transfer cost of sending these clips to the Tesla servers is not clearly mentioned in this prompt.

For ease of reading I have re-typed the opt-in/out dialogue box in text below.

We are working hard to improve autonomous safety features and make self-driving a reality for you as soon as possible

In order to do so, 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 lights positions. The more fleet learning of road conditions we are able to do, the better your Tesla self-driving abilit will become

We want to be super clear that these short video clips are not linked to your vehicle identification number, in order to protect your privacy, we have ensured that there is no way to search our system for clips that are associated with a specific car.

Do you agree to allow us to collect these clips? You can change your mind later at any time.

In order for these features to work, Tesla measures the road segment data of all participating vehicles but in a way that does not identify you or your car, and may share that with partners that contribute similar data to help us provide the service. At no point is any personally identifiable information collected or shared during this process

Do you agree to allow us to collect this data? You can change your mind later at any time.


Iqtidar Ali
[email protected]

Iqtidar Ali is a long time web developer and now writing for his childhood passion 'cars' further boosted by the advent of electric vehicles especially Tesla.

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