Details on Tesla’s inbuilt nanny and black-box data loggerEnlarge Photo
A small touchscreen display panel found on the lower left side of the dashboard monitors all the usual trip-info, but it goes further in that it displays peak horsepower and toque numbers as well as G ratings for acceleration figures. A security encoded pin number can be set so that only you can start the car and during valet mode, top speed is restricted to 20mph with a range of only 2 miles.
One feature that we don’t like so much is the race car style onboard data logger or black-box, which only Tesla engineers have access to. According to a Winding Road article, the log can notify Tesla service technicians about anything the car has done. Something most drivers should fear is the possibility of car companies being forced to hand over detailed information about what the car was doing moments before an accident. A worrying possibility is the chance of a motorist's driving habit voiding their warranty or causing insurance agencies the right to reject claims.
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Already there have been cases in both the US and Canada, where information sourced from a vehicle’s data logger has either saved or convicted drivers during legal battles. Recently, a bill was submitted in North Dakota, that requires automakers to disclose the presence of the boxes in cars' owners’ manuals and requires dealers to disclose information about them during purchase. Further, the bill would also prevent black-box data from being used in court, unless ordered by the court or allowed by participants in the proceedings. Let’s hope the rest of the country adopts some of these practices.
Problems stem from the fact that most motorists are unaware that their actions are being recordered and that there are currently no regulations governing how the data can be used and interpreted. So far, General Motors has installed the most black boxes to date, although Ford has also used data recorders widely in its lines plus BMW, Chrysler, Honda, Isuzu and Toyota only install them in some models.