Tesla Starts Massive Data Collection Activity on Customer Cars via Autopilot Hardware Kit 2

Techblog Electrek reported that Tesla apparently started to download video clips from cars equipped with the Autopilot Hardware Kit 2. A few weeks ago with the latest Autopilot 2.0 update, Tesla-owners could allow Tesla access to videos from the cars’ external cameras.

“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 light positions. The more fleet learning of road conditions we are able to do, the better your Tesla’s self-driving ability 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.”

Since the software update on May 7th, a spike in data uploaded to Tesla has begin. Tesla-owner kutrod posted the following screenshot of uploaded data volumes. Within a month almost two gigabytes of data were uploaded by this Tesla-owner. With almost 60.000 Teslas equipped with that hardware on the road this would mean a maximal data volume of over 100 terabytes has been uploaded to Tesla.


To realize the meaning, we have to understand how autonomous cars work. They use neuronal networks – or simply speaking AI systems – which are trained through machine learning how to make sense of sensor data and make decisions. Since no programmer can ever predict all real world driving scenarios, they systems are kept flexible with frameworks based on conditions and then with driving as much as possible in the real world and on the simulator. The results of each car are then collected, corrected, and downloaded again on each car of the fleet. The more cars there are on the street, the faster the whole fleet can learn and become better.

Here are some pictures of how a Tesla views the world with the cameras of the Autopilot Hardware Kit 2.

While the Google subsidiary Waymo so far has over 100 cars on the road and is aiming at a total of 600 until end of the year, and GM is aiming at 300 vehicles until the end of the year, Tesla uses all of it’s approximately 60,000 cars that have been manufactured and delivered since October 19th, 2016. With such an amount of cars data collection under way more road conditions is just simply much faster.

For the end of the year Elon Musk announced to have a regular Tesla production car autonomously drive itself from Los Angeles to New York.

ASome time later we can expect an update for the Autopilot enabling all Tesla models with the Hardware Kit 2 for Level 4 autonomy. In an instant between 100,000 to 150,000 Teslas will then become self-driving enabled. And this also in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. We have mentioned that already multiple times.

To close here are some more detailed of the Autopilot Hardware Kit 2.

This article has also been published in German.



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