Tesla vehicle data collection

IEEESpectrum is planning a short series of reports examining Tesla's collection and use of data from its customers' vehicles. Part 1 will summarize what is known about what data Tesla collects and uploads to its servers.


Tesla electric vehicles are known to have cameras and sensors that collect a vast amount of environmental data and transmit it to the company's servers. In Germany, a police department has already banned Tesla vehicles from its yard – and currently, the Munich police want to use camera footage of a parked Tesla vehicle to solve a crime. Thanks to guard mode while parked, mugshots have thus been created.

In China, Teslas are also banned from certain zones at certain times. In the summer of 2022, Teslas were banned from the glamorous beachfront in Beidaihe, China. Authorities banned Elon Musk's electric cars from the resort for two months while the annual Communist Party retreat is taking place there. The idea is to guard against the vehicles' cameras making recordings.

What is Tesla recording?

I came across the topic or issue via the following tweet. The graphic from the following tweet shows the data collection of a vehicle that became public from court records in Florida.

Tesla data collection

The speed history of a Tesla became public after the Florida company was sued for negligence following a fatal accident involving two young men. As part of its defense, the company submitted a historical speed analysis that showed the car had been driven at a daily speed limit averaging more than 90 miles per hour (145 kilometers per hour) in the months leading up to the accident. This data was quietly recorded by the car and uploaded to Tesla's servers. (A jury later found Tesla only 1 percent negligent in this case.)


This and other details can be found in the IEEE Spectrum article The Radical Scope of Tesla's Data Hoard.

Meanwhile, every newer Tesla model reportedly records a GPS track of every trip. The data is uploaded, supposedly anonymized, to Tesla servers. Experts are skeptical about anonymization, however. The "gateway log" files that are regularly uploaded to Tesla include seat belt, autopilot and cruise control settings, as well as whether the driver had his or her hands on the wheel. Those who are interested in the topic and want to know what Tesla records about their car, its surroundings and the driver can read this in the linked article.

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