Tesla gains one million miles of self-driving data every 10 hours

tesla constant cellular tests autonomy model s p90d 1408
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends
The not-so-secret “secret” to Tesla’s autonomous driving research is the perpetual cellular internet connection in its cars. Whether the driver is using any of the Tesla autopilot features or not, the car tracks and transmits data back to the mothership … um, Tesla headquarters, where the company can analyze it and learn from it, according to the MIT Technology Review.

Speaking at the EmTech Digital conference in San Francisco, Tesla’s Autopilot program director Sterling Anderson said that Tesla Model S vehicles have had the constant cellular connection since 2012. The company started installing a suite of 12 new sensors into the cars in 2014, and the ability to track what the car was doing, where it was, what was around it, and how it was behaving increased significantly. The sensors were introduced as a new emergency braking system, and they do perform that function, but the ultrasonic sensors along with radar and forward-facing cameras enable the company to test autonomous driving features.

One of the functions of the constant cellular connection is to enable automatic software updates. Owners never have to go to a dealership just to download the latest install. Tesla is also able to add functions that the driver won’t know about or even be able to use, in order to conduct tests. Neither Tesla nor the new functions covertly take over the cars, so the driver is still in control of the vehicle and which functions are actually active. However, there’s an “inert” mode whereby Tesla can access the data streaming from the sensors to see how the car “would have reacted” if it were in autopilot mode.

With every new Tesla sold, the data stream grows. “Since introducing this hardware 18 months ago we’ve accrued 780 million miles,” said Anderson. “We can use all of that data on our servers to look for how people are using our cars and how we can improve things.”

Anderson also spoke about driver expectations. “Autopilot is not an autonomous system and should not be treated as one,” he said. “We ask drivers to keep their hands on [the wheel] and be prepared to take over.”

Tesla Model S drivers that activated the autopilot Summon mode and hit other parked vehicles should know that Tesla knows exactly what you did and when you did it. If this feels too Big Brother-ish for you, just don’t buy a Tesla. In the meantime, unlike any other car company at this time, Tesla is able to gather data in prodigious quantities for installed autonomous features, whether or not the owners know about them.

Cars

Driving Daimler’s 40-ton eCascadia big rig isn’t just fun, it’s electrifying

Daimler Trucks brought its all-electric eCascadia semi-truck to the 2019 CES, and invited us to take the wheel. What does it feel like to drive one? Simply electrifying, of course.
Computing

Protect your expensive new laptop with the best Macbook cases

If you recently picked up a new MacBook, you’ll want something to protect its gorgeous exterior. Here, we've gathered the best MacBook cases and covers, whether you're looking for style or protection.
Home Theater

What are HDMI ARC and eARC? Here’s how they can simplify your home theater

HDMI ARC is one of the coolest TV features at your disposal. But if you're like most folks, you have no idea how it works, if you even know what it is at all. Here's our primer on HDMI ARC, as well as the next generation technology, eARC.
Home Theater

Still listening on tinny TV speakers? Try one of our favorite soundbars

You no longer have to sacrifice sound for size when selecting home audio equipment. Check out our picks for the best soundbars, whether you're looking for budget options, pure power, smarts, or tons of features.
Cars

Nissan IMs concept teases a future long-range, autonomous electric car

Debuting at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the Nissan IMs is an electric car with a 380-mile range, autonomous-driving capability, and a backseat designed for being chauffeured. Too bad it's just a concept car.
Cars

The 2020 Lexus RC F goes on a diet to run faster and hit harder

The Lexus RC F has been one of the heavier cars in its competitive set since its introduction. The Japanese firm's engineers set out to shed weight as they gave the model a mid-cycle update.
Cars

Lexus LC convertible concept teases a new open-air flagship

Debuting at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show, the Lexus LC convertible concept adds open-air motoring to the sleek LC's resume. But Lexus won't commit to a production version of the car just yet.
Cars

Fast and Furious fans get revved up: Toyota’s Supra sports car is back

The 2020 Toyota Supra made its long-awaited debut at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. The resurrected sports car, famous for a role in The Fast and the Furious, goes on sale in the U.S. this summer.
Cars

Muscle cars, trucks, and EVs roared into the subdued 2019 Detroit Auto Show

The 2019 Detroit Auto Show was the quietest edition of the event in recent memory, but that doesn't mean nothing significant happened inside the Cobo Center. Here are the new cars and concepts we saw at the show.
Cars

Big tech, bigger grille: BMW updates its 7 Series flagship for 2020

The BMW 7 Series will enter the 2020 model year with a host of updates inside, outside, and under the sheet metal. The new-look nose with a jumbo grille hides updated engines, while passengers benefit from smart tech features.
Emerging Tech

Ford’s sweaty robot bottom can simulate 10 years of seat use in mere days

Ford has developed 'Robutt,' a sweaty robot bottom that's designed to simulate the effects of having a pair of human buttocks sitting on its car seats for thousands of hours. Check it out.
Cars

In McLaren’s 600LT Spider, the engine is the only sound system you’ll need

The McLaren 600LT Spider is the inevitable convertible version of the 600LT coupe, itself a lighter, more powerful version of the McLaren 570S. The 600LT Spider boasts a 592-horsepower, twin-turbo V8, and a loud exhaust system to hear it…
Cars

Robomart’s self-driving grocery store is like Amazon Go on wheels

Robomart's driverless vehicle is like an Amazon Go store on wheels, with sensors tracking what you grab from the shelves. If you don't want to shop online or visit the grocery store yourself, Robomart will bring the store to you.
News

Ford has a plan to future-proof the hot-selling F-150 pickup truck

Worried about the threat of rising gas prices, Ford will add the F-150 to its growing portfolio of electrified vehicles. It is currently developing a hybrid F-150, and it will release an electric version of the next-generation truck.