Tesla video promoting self-driving was staged, engineer testifies

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The video, which remains archived on Tesla’s online page online, was released in October 2016 and promoted on Twitter by CEO Elon Musk as proof that ‘Tesla drives itself.’

January 17, 2023 02:01 PM

A 2016 video that Tesla Inc. worn to promote its self-driving technology was staged to hide capabilities admire stopping at a crimson light and accelerating at a green light that the machine didn’t have faith, in preserving with testimony by a senior engineer.

The video, which remains archived on Tesla’s online page online, was released in October 2016 and promoted on Twitter by CEO Elon Musk as proof that “Tesla drives itself.”

But the Mannequin X was no longer driving itself with technology Tesla had deployed, Ashok Elluswamy, director of Autopilot design at Tesla, talked about within the transcript of a July deposition taken as proof in a lawsuit against Tesla for a 2018 fatal smash exciting a vulnerable Apple engineer.

The previously unreported testimony by Elluswamy represents the precious time a Tesla employee has confirmed and detailed how the video was produced.

The video carries a tagline announcing: “The particular person within the motive force’s seat is simplest there for honest causes. He’s no longer doing anything else. The auto is driving itself.”

Elluswamy talked about Tesla’s Autopilot team situation out to engineer and story a “demonstration of the machine’s capabilities” on the demand of Musk.

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Elluswamy, Musk and Tesla didn’t answer to a requirement for commentary. On the choice hand, the company has warned drivers that they need to withhold their hands on the wheel and withhold regulate of their vehicles whereas the declare of Autopilot.

The Tesla technology is designed to wait on with steering, braking, spin and lane adjustments however its functions “originate no longer waste the car self reliant,” the company says on its online page online.

To create the video, the Tesla worn 3D mapping on a predetermined route from a condominium in Menlo Park, California, to Tesla’s then-headquarters in Palo Alto, he talked about.

Drivers intervened to buy regulate in check runs, he talked about. When attempting to hide the Mannequin X may perchance park itself with out a driver, a check car crashed trusty into a fence in Tesla’s car automobile parking space, he talked about.

“The intent of the video was no longer to precisely characterize what was available for customers in 2016. It was to characterize what was that you will deem to place into the machine,” Elluswamy talked about, in preserving with a transcript of his testimony considered by Reuters.

When Tesla released the video, Musk tweeted, “Tesla drives itself (no human enter at all) thru urban streets to highway to streets, then finds a parking popularity.”

Tesla faces lawsuits and regulatory scrutiny over its driver assistance programs.

The U.S. Department of Justice started a criminal investigation into Tesla’s claims that its EVs can pressure themselves in 2021, after a preference of crashes, some of them fatal, exciting Autopilot, Reuters has reported.

The Original York Times reported in 2021 that Tesla engineers had created the 2016 video to promote Autopilot with out disclosing that the route had been mapped prematurely or that a car had crashed in attempting to total the shoot, citing nameless sources.

When asked if the 2016 video showed the efficiency of the Tesla Autopilot machine available in a production car on the time, Elluswamy talked about, “It doesn’t.”

Elluswamy was deposed in a lawsuit against Tesla over a 2018 smash in Mountain Seek, Calif., that killed Apple engineer Walter Huang.

Andrew McDevitt, the attorney who represents Huang’s partner and who puzzled Elluswamy in July, told Reuters it was “clearly deceptive to feature that video with none disclaimer or asterisk.”

The National Transportation Safety Board concluded in 2020 that Huang’s fatal smash was likely attributable to his distraction and the obstacles of Autopilot. It talked about Tesla’s “ineffective monitoring of driver engagement” had contributed to the smash.

Elluswamy talked about drivers may perchance “fool the machine,” making a Tesla machine factor in that they were being attentive basically based on suggestions from the steering wheel after they weren’t. But he talked about he saw no safety field with Autopilot if drivers were being attentive.

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