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Promotional Video Of Tesla Was Faked By The Firm, Says Company Engineer

Promotional Video Of Tesla Was Faked By The Firm, Says Company Engineer
According to testimony from a senior engineer, a 2016 video that was used by Tesla for promoting its self-driving technology was a staged one aimed at showcasing the capabilities such as stopping a car at a red light and speeding at a green light which were not present on the system.
The video, which is still available on Tesla's website, was released in October 2016 and promoted on Twitter by Tesla CEO Elon Musk as proof that "Tesla drives itself."
However, the Model X was not driving itself using Tesla technology, according to Ashok Elluswamy, Tesla's director of Autopilot software, in a transcript of a July deposition taken as evidence in a lawsuit against Tesla for a 2018 fatal crash involving a former Apple engineer.
Elluswamy's previously undisclosed testimony marks the first time a Tesla employee has affirmed and explained in detail about how the video was created.
"The person in the driver's seat is only there for legal reasons," says the tagline of the video. He is not acting in any way. "The car drives itself."
According to Elluswamy, Tesla's Autopilot team set out to engineer and record a "demonstration of the system's capabilities" at Musk's request.
Elluswamy, Musk, and Tesla have all declined to comment. However, the company has warned drivers that while using Autopilot, they must keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of their vehicles.
The Tesla technology is intended to help with steering, braking, speed, and lane changes, but it "does not make the vehicle autonomous," according to the company's website.
The Tesla used 3D mapping on a predetermined route from a house in Menlo Park, California, to Tesla's then-headquarters in Palo Alto to create the video, he said.
He claimed that during test runs, drivers intervened to take control. A test car crashed into a fence in Tesla's parking lot while attempting to demonstrate the Model X's ability to park itself without a driver, he said.
“The intent of the video was not to accurately portray what was available for customers in 2016. It was to portray what was possible to build into the system,” Elluswamy said, according to a transcript of his testimony seen by Reuters.
Musk tweeted after Tesla released the video, "Tesla drives itself (no human input required) thru urban streets to highway to streets, then finds a parking spot."
Tesla is facing lawsuits and regulatory scrutiny in relation to its driver assistance systems.
According to Reuters, the US Department of Justice launched a criminal investigation into Tesla's claims that its electric vehicles will be able to drive themselves by 2021, following a number of fatal crashes involving Autopilot.
According to anonymous sources, the New York Times reported in 2021 that Tesla engineers created the 2016 video to promote Autopilot without disclosing that the route had been planned in advance or that a car had crashed while attempting to complete the shoot.
Elluswamy responded, "It does not show the performance of the Tesla Autopilot system available in a production car at the time."
Elluswamy testified in a Tesla lawsuit related to a 2018 crash in Mountain View, California, that caused the death of Apple engineer Walter Huang.
Andrew McDevitt, the lawyer who represents Huang's wife and questioned Elluswamy in July, told Reuters that it was "obviously misleading" to feature the video "without any disclaimer or asterisk."
Huang's fatal crash was likely caused by his distraction and the limitations of Autopilot, according to the National Transportation Safety Board in 2020. According to the report, Tesla's "ineffective monitoring of driver engagement" contributed to the crash.
Elluswamy stated that drivers could "fool the system," making a Tesla system believe that they were paying attention based on steering wheel feedback when they were not. However, he stated that if drivers were paying attention, he saw no safety issues with Autopilot.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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