Tesla’s latest update to the software that makes its cars tick includes the collection of “short video clips” it says will be used to help engineers refine the company’s self-driving systems.
According to Electrek, the automaker’s second-generation Autopilot system uses eight cameras and a variety of sensors to help the car “see” road markings, street signs, and traffic lights, as well as detect obstacles and people that could pose a collision risk.
Smartly, Tesla hasn’t made it mandatory for all owners to agree to the new policy, and it was clear that video collected could be shared with “partners.” Despite Tesla’s assurances these clips won’t identify any specific car, we’re certain this won’t sit well with any number of Tesla owners and privacy advocates.
Tesla conducts all of its software updates “over the air,” meaning the code is transmitted, presumably from its California headquarters, to each vehicle, wherever it happens to be.
Most car manufacturers say they will have autonomous driving technology more or less nailed by around the year 2020, though it will be some time after that that roadway infrastructure and vehicle-to-vehicle communication reaches a point that will allow the use of self-driving cars in any significant fashion.
Here’s the text of the message that Tesla owners have been greeted with following the update:
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.
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 the process.