An investigation into Tesla using special code marked for crash-testing vehicles hasn’t found any evidence that the automaker cheated on its crash tests.
Tesla has an incredible record when it comes to crash safety. Its electric vehicles have consistently achieved top safety ratings with auto safety agencies around the world.
The latest safety accolade came from Euro NCAP and Australia’s ANCAP, which released their own testing results for the Tesla Model Y, and the electric vehicle achieved the highest Euro NCAP overall score under its new protocol.
The incredible achievement was quickly put in doubt last month after a report revealed that Tesla has been adding code that involves crash-testing agencies, including ANCAP and EuroNCAP, to the vehicles involved in the safety testing.
According to Tesla hacker Green, who found the code in Tesla’s software, he was able to confirm that Tesla has been giving “one-off builds” to crash-testing agencies and that the tweaks that the software code brings are “non-visible settings on the autopilot side.”
The report triggered an investigation by Euro NCAP, which has now given an update to CNN.
Euro NCAP program director Aled Williams says that there’s no evidence Tesla used the code to cheat the tests:
The integrity of its star-rating scheme is of utmost importance to Euro NCAP and we will continue to do all we can to ensure the rating reflects the safety which consumers can expect from their vehicles. So far, Euro NCAP’s investigations have not revealed any evidence of an attempt to “cheat” the tests by Tesla.
The organization has reportedly “examined Tesla’s software updates to test vehicles and not found any fault.”
The biggest fear was reportedly geofencing for some features like Tesla does for its FSD Beta program for example, but the agency says it is not the case:
It is possible that GPS location is used to identify that the car is at a specific test track. It’s one of the possibilities we put to Tesla and they absolutely deny that this is done.
Now as to why Tesla has code referencing the safety agencies in the first place in its software, Euro NCAP has reportedly been told that the software code referencing Euro NCAP and ANCAP “are used only to identify the region for which the car is configured.”
Different regions (such as Europe, Australasia, etc.) differ in terms of legislation as well as road conditions/markings, etc. The recent addition of ANCAP to the code of Model Y coincides with the start of sales of that vehicle in Australasia.
This explanation is not satisfactory to everyone. Green, the hacker who originally raised the red flag, noted Japan uses different road markings as well, and it is not in the software with Euro NCAP and ANCAP, which would indicate that there’s another way for Tesla to identify the regions in the software.
Euro NCAP is continuing its investigation, and it will try to replicate its original safety tests.
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