In 2016, Tesla uploaded a video that was meant to promote its self-driving technology. However, an engineer disclosed that this production was staged.
The video was published in October 2016 and Elon Musk promoted it on Twitter claiming that the “Tesla drives itself”. However, Ashok Elluswamu, Director of Autopilot Software of the company, assured the contrary. This statement was transcribed from a deposition in July. The latter was used as evidence in a lawsuit against the manufacturer.
A huge deception ?
According to Elluswamy, the shooting of the video was at the request of Elon Musk. Apparently, the Tesla team aimed to present a “demonstration of system capabilities”. When Elluswamy was asked if the 2016 video chronicled the realityhe replied that ” This is not the case “.
The video was about Tesla’s Autopilot system found on production cars of the time. It showed that the car had 3D mapping on a predetermined route. The vehicle traveled from a house in Menlo Park, California to Tesla headquarters in Palo Alto. But in real life, no Tesla benefited from 3D mapping.
“The intent of the video was not to accurately portray what was available to customers in 2016.”
Ashok Elluswamy in his testimony
At times, drivers had to regain control of the car during practice. In one such human driver test, the Model X had even crashed into a barrier in the parking lot of the company. The goal was to show that the vehicle could park without any manual intervention.
Tesla is the target of numerous lawsuits
Despite these demonstrations as well as Musk’s former tweet, Tesla warned its consumers. The company asked them to stay alert and of keep their hands on the wheel even if Autopilot is enabled. According to the Tesla site, the latter and Full Self-Driving (FSD) are driver assistance technologies. In other words, these systems do not allow cars to be fully autonomous.
Today the company is the target of lawsuits and a regulatory review on Autopilot and FSD. In particular, the US Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation into Tesla’s claims. The latter assured in 2021 that his electric cars had autonomous driving. According to Reutersthis investigation takes place because of the accidents, sometimes fatal, which involve Autopilot.
Regarding Elluswamy, he testified in a lawsuit against the builder in relation to an accident. This one happened in 2018 in Mountain View and caused the death of Walter Huang, an engineer at Apple. At this trial, Andrew McDevitt expressed that he was “misleading to present this video without any disclaimer or asterisk”. McDevitt is the lawyer who interviewed Elluswamy in July and represented the victim’s wife, said Reuters.