Tesla releases new tool for people to retrieve ‘blackbox data’ after a crash

Tesla is making it a little easier for people to retrieve ‘blackbox data’ from their vehicles after a crash with new EDR tools.

While Tesla’s vehicles are highly connected and log a lot of data, the company didn’t use an EDR (Event Data Recorder), which acts as a black box for cars, to make crash data accessible to the owners or other people who could need them, like the authorities or insurance companies.

It’s not the case anymore since Tesla added an EDR and released this week new publicly available tools to access the logs, which don’t actually include Telsa’s ‘Autopilot logs’ often publicized after some crashes.

In the past, Tesla has often used ‘data logs’ to defend itself against claims made by owners who blamed Tesla’s Autopilot or sudden acceleration events after crashes in Model S and Model X vehicles.

For example,  a South Korean celebrity sued Tesla after claiming that his Model X accelerated on its own into his garage back in 2016, but the automaker claimed that the logs showed it was a user mistake.

In this case, Tesla could show that the accelerator pedal was physically pressed during the event. That’s the kind of data that people are going to be able to access through Tesla’s new EDR, but it will not show any data related to Autopilot.

In another example, Tesla used data directly related to Autopilot features, like Autosteer, to show that the driver assist system wasn’t responsible for Model X crashing and rolling over.

Originally, EDR basically only recorded if the airbags were deployed after the event a crash.

They have since evolved into more complex data collection linked to more sensors and now NHTSA requires them to collects things like vehicle speed, inputs from the accelerator, brake, and steering, stability control and ABS activity, and whether or not a driver was wearing a seatbelt.

That’s the data that Tesla’s EDR will release as required by NTHSA and not Autopilot data or even images from Tesla’s Autopilot cameras.

As we previously reported, Tesla Autopilot cameras store footage after a crash like a dashcam.

Those images could certainly be useful in the event of a crash, but they are so far sent only to Tesla – though Elon Musk says that Tesla is working on a dashcam feature using its Autopilot cameras.

NHTSA specifies that EDR’s should “not include audio and video data.”

But for the rest of the data mentioned above, Tesla is now making it way easier for people to access it as long as they have physical access to the vehicle. And to be clear, the data is only available in the event of a crash.

With a new resources page on its website, Tesla explains how to access the EDR with a CAN USB Adapter (PCAN-USB), its own retrieval harness, and a new free software.  

There’s also now a full guide on how to access it on the Model S:

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