Did Tesla try to trick us? An engineer working for the automaker claims a 2016 video used to promote self-driving was staged, reports CNN. In this spot, Elon Musk’s firm reveals the specifics of its Autopilot, such as the ability for its vehicles to stop at a red light or accelerate when the light turns green, without touching the controls. Performance that the autonomous driving system did not have at the time, assures a senior engineer at Tesla.
The video, which remains archived on Tesla’s website, was published in October 2016 and relayed on Twitter by its CEO Elon Musk, who highlighted the fact that this car “drives itself”. Except that the Model X didn’t drive with the technology deployed by Tesla, said Ashok Elluswamy, director of Autopilot software, in the transcript of a deposition from July, in the lawsuit against Tesla following an accident. fatal in 2018 involving a former Apple engineer. Defense attorney Andrew McDevitt said it was “grossly misleading to present this video without any warnings or asterisks”.
To create the video, Tesla used 3D mapping of a pre-determined route between a house in Menlo Park, Calif., and Tesla’s headquarters in Palo Alto. And the drivers intervened to take control during the tests, detailed Ashok Elluswamy, contrary to what the video suggested. In trying to show that the Model X could park without a driver, a test car reportedly crashed into a wall in Tesla’s parking lot, he added. Information that had never been mentioned. “The intent of the video was not to accurately describe what was available to customers in 2016. It was to describe what was possible to integrate into the system,” Elluswamy said, according to a transcript. of his testimony, relayed by Reuters.
Several legal actions for sometimes fatal accidents
As a reminder, in this video spot, the following slogan was put forward: “The person who occupies the driver’s seat is there only for legal reasons. He does nothing. The car drives itself.” Now drivers are alerted to the need to keep their hands on the wheel and stay in control of their vehicle, even when Autopilot is on. Tesla’s technology is designed to help with driving, braking, lane changes, speed regulation, but its characteristics “do not make the vehicle autonomous”, specifies the manufacturer on its website.
As CNN recalls, Tesla is facing lawsuits and regulatory scrutiny of its driver assistance systems. The US Department of Justice opened a criminal investigation in 2021 into Tesla’s claims that its electric vehicles can drive themselves. This follows a number of accidents, some fatal, involving the autopilot.