The Leaked Tesla Files and Their Implications for ADAS Safety

The leak:

The German newspaper Handelsblatt recently obtained access to over 100 Gigabytes of leaked files from internal Tesla systems. These files cover a range of information, including confidential employee data, Cybertruck development details, and customer claims and problem reports related to Tesla’s ADAS products (full self-driving and autopilot). Fraunhofer SIT has assessed the leaked data and concluded that it is indeed Tesla’s internal information.

Data Privacy Concerns:

The whistleblower was surprised that his queries in the internal system were not blocked, raising concerns about data privacy and confidentiality. This is particularly significant because Tesla claims to have collected data from “more than 9 billion kilometers of drive-data” where ADAS features were enabled. However, for the purpose of this post, we will focus on the perspective of ADAS safety rather than data privacy.

Contents of the Leaked Files:

Handelsblatt reports that the dataset includes numerous customer claims regarding issues with Tesla’s ADAS features. These issues encompass “unintended acceleration,” “unintended emergency braking,” and collisions or crashes while the ADAS system was engaged or shortly after. The leaked files contain more than 3000 entries documenting safety concerns related to ADAS features. Additionally, the files reveal that Tesla’s preferred communication with customers for handling such claims is primarily verbal, not written.

Assessment of ADAS Safety:

Based on the Handelsblatt articles and without access to the files themselves, here is an initial assessment:

  1. Expected Failure Modes: The problems reported by customers align with typical failure modes expected from an ADAS system. During hazard analysis and risk assessment, issues like “unintended acceleration” and “unintended emergency braking” would be identified as potential hazards. Therefore, customer claims reporting these issues should not come as a surprise. It’s important to note that the leaked cases only account for 0.115% of the fleet, considering Tesla shipped 2.6 million vehicles with Autopilot software between 2015 and 2022. However, it is uncertain whether all 3000 claims are related to the Autopilot system.
  2. Similarities to Previous Cases: The leaked files suggest that Tesla attributes many “unintended acceleration” cases to drivers confusing the gas pedal with the brake pedal. This situation recalls the initial assessment of the “Toyota unintended acceleration problem“, where multiple causes were ultimately identified, such as faulty floor mats, mechanically sticking gas pedals, and software bugs.
  3. Autonomous Driving Challenges: The report highlights that Tesla has not yet achieved fully autonomous driving, as its full self-driving and autopilot systems are classified as SAE Level 2, requiring the driver’s continuous control and traffic monitoring. This reaffirms the notion that a cautious and comprehensive approach to safety is essential for ADAS features, even if it may slow down development. Following functional safety and safety of the intended function standards is crucial for ensuring a safe product.


This is an early assessment and summary of the reported information. It remains to be seen what further developments will emerge and whether additional technical details will allow for a more thorough evaluation of Tesla’s ADAS system safety.

Stay tuned for updates.

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