A Tesla System Crash - Lessons Learned

Sam Lin
2 min readFeb 21, 2021

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EBC: Tesla system crashed by a particular Chinese term in Taiwan

This week, Tesla Taiwanese users may have too much fun to reboot their Tesla by a magic spell. 3 lessons may worth learning for whoever wants to make their next cars smarter.

  1. A better isolated application architecture pays. Which reduces the penalty as it recovers quicker/less painful to restart an app than the system. I learned my lessons too many time since my feature phone days 😅. It’s a darker age because of how “easy” to crash a phone by phonebook, calculator or almost any app. Smartphone “solved” such problems by a better app architecture. It does cost more to build for sure. But only at a time like this, it pays. Especially when you’re responsible for a production hell, you may appreciate the gravity more. Some guess it’s luck, I believe persistent with skills 😉.
  2. “Luckily” Tesla does Over The Air updates to deploy the fix with minimal lead time & cost. Whereas it’s very costly for others when recalling is the only option. Bonus: there is also a thing called app store in the smartphone world 🤫. It’s not about which way to update is better. Rather you don’t want to use a hammer to tighten a screw 🪛.
  3. Testing at scope & scale is not just more important for smarter cars because the complexity ifs an exponential function of smartless, e.g. functionalities * system states * contexts. But also if you want or need to update cars frequently. There is no free lunch. So you either test in-house more, or let more users to test for you 😂.
SW Engineering At Google: Life span & the importance of upgrades

Which Production Hell?

Note, depending on “what business you are in”, the production hell can be very different thing. For a car maker, ramping up the output & quality for production lines in indeed very difficult. Whereas for app/service players, “a production hell” is typically when the usage is ramping up exponentially. Even it’s a good problem to have, it’a also a real test of the SW team capability 🦾. Don’t let Team Rocket wins 😂.

Full Disclosure

The opinions stated here are my own, not those of my company. They are mostly extrapolations from the news. I don’t have insider knowledge of those companies, nor an EV expert.

CTO Amazon@Werner asked @NianticLabs, help needed?

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Sam Lin

A Taiwanese lives in Silicon Valley since 2014 with my own random opinions to share. And, they are my own, not those of companies I work for.