Tesla video promoting self-driving was staged, engineer testifies


According to testimony from a senior engineer, a 2016 video . That Tesla used to promote. Its self-driving technology was staged to show capabilities such as. Stopping at a red light and accelerating at a green light, which the system did not have.

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

But the Model X itself was not driving with the technology Tesla used, Ashok Eluswami, director of . Tesla’s Autopilot software, said in a transcript of a July deposition . Taken as evidence in a lawsuit against Tesla involving a former . Apple engineer over a fatal 2018 crash. .

Illuswamy’s before Unpublished testimony represents . the first time a Tesla employee has confirmed and detailed how the video was made.

The video has a tagline that reads: “The person in the driver’s seat is only there for legal reasons. He is doing nothing. The car is driving itself.”

Elluswamy said . Tesla’s Autopilot team set out to engineer and record a “demonstration of . The system’s capabilities” at Musk’s request.

Eluswamy, Musk and Tesla did not respond to requests for comment. Yet, the company warns drivers that they must keep their hands on. The wheel and maintain control of their vehicles while using Autopilot.

The Tesla technology is designed to assist with steering, braking, speed and . lane changes, but its features “do not make the vehicle autonomous,” the company said on its website.

To create the video, Tesla used 3D mapping on. A predetermined route from a home in Menlo Park, Calif., to . Tesla’s then-headquarters in Palo Alto, he said.
The drivers intervened to control the test run, he said. While trying to show the Model . X could park itself without a driver, a test car crashed into a fence in Tesla’s parking lot, he said.
The video was not intended to portray what was available to consumers in 2016. It was to illustrate what was possible to create in the system,” Illuswamy said . According to a transcript of his testimony seen by Reuters.

When Tesla released the video, Musk tweeted. Tesla drives itself (no human input) through . Urban streets on highways, then finds a parking spot.”
Tesla faces lawsuits and regulatory scrutiny over its driver help system.

The US Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation into Tesla’s claims. That its electric vehicles could drive themselves by 2021. after several crashes, some of them fatal, involving Autopilot, Reuters reported.

The New York Times reported in 2021 that . Tesla engineers created the 2016 video to promote Autopilot. That the route was pre-mapped or a car crashed trying to complete the shoot. Citing anonymous sources.

When asked if the 2016 video showed . The functionality of the Tesla Autopilot system available in . A production car at the time, Eluswami said, “It doesn’t.”

Eluswami was deposed in a lawsuit against Tesla that resulted in the death of Apple engineer . Walter Huang in a 2018 crash in Mountain View, California.

Andrew McDevitt. The lawyer who represents Huang’s wife and who questioned Eluswami in July. Told Reuters that “showing that video without a disclaimer or. An asterisk is misleading.”

The National Transportation . Safety Board concluded in 2020 that Huang’s fatal crash was likely caused by . His distraction and autopilot limitations. It said Tesla’s “ineffective monitoring of driver engagement” contributed to the crash.

Illuswamy said drivers were “fooling the system” into believing . The Tesla system was paying attention . Based on feedback from the steering wheel when they weren’t. But he said he doesn’t see any safety issues with Autopilot if drivers are paying attention.

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