(CTN NEWS) – A senior engineer testified that a 2016 video used by Tesla (TSLA.O) to advertise its self-driving technology was staged to demonstrate features like stopping at a red light and speeding at a green light that the system did not possess.
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, touted the video, which is still stored on the company’s website, on Twitter in October 2016 as proof that “Tesla drives itself.”
However, Ashok Elluswamy, director of Autopilot software at Tesla, stated in the transcript of a July deposition that was used as evidence in a lawsuit against Tesla for a fatal crash in 2018 involving a former Apple (AAPL.O) engineer.
The Model X was not driving itself with the technology that Tesla had deployed.
Tesla drives itself (no human input at all) thru urban streets to highway to streets, then finds a parking spot https://t.co/V2T7KGMPBo
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 20, 2016
For the first time, a Tesla employee has confirmed and explained how the video was made in his or her previously unreported statement, which Elluswamy provided.
“The person in the driver’s seat is just there for legal reasons,” the tagline for the video reads. He is not acting in any way. The vehicle is self-driving.
At Musk’s request, the Tesla Autopilot team, according to Elluswamy, set out to design and document a “demonstration of the system’s capabilities.”
An inquiry for comments about Elluswamy, Musk, and Tesla received no response. However, the company has advised drivers that while using Autopilot, they must keep their hands on the wheel and remain in control of their vehicles.
According to the company’s website, the Tesla technology is intended to help with steering, braking, speed, and lane changes but its functions “do not make the vehicle autonomous.”
From home in Menlo Park, California, to Tesla‘s then-headquarters in Palo Alto, he added, the Tesla employed 3D mapping on a prearranged route to generate the film.
In test runs, drivers stepped in to assume control, he claimed. He said a test vehicle ran into a fence in Tesla’s parking area while trying to demonstrate the Model X’s ability to park without a driver.
“The film’s purpose was not to adequately represent customers’ options in 2016.” According to a transcript of his evidence obtained by Reuters, Elluswamy stated that it was intended to illustrate what may be incorporated into the system.
Musk tweeted, “Tesla drives itself (no human input at all) from urban streets to the motorway to streets, then finds a parking spot,” in response to Tesla’s release of the video.
Regarding its driving assistance technologies, Tesla is being sued under regulatory scrutiny.
After several collisions, some of them deadly, employing Autopilot, the U.S. Department of Justice launched a criminal inquiry into Tesla’s promises that its electric cars can drive themselves in 2021, according to Reuters.
Citing unnamed sources, the New York Times claimed in 2021 that Tesla engineers had produced the 2016 advertisement for Autopilot without mentioning that the route had been pre-mapped or that a car had crashed while attempting to complete the shot.
Elluswamy responded, “It does not,” when asked if the 2016 video demonstrated how well the Tesla Autopilot system performed in a production vehicle at the time.
Asserting Elluswamy’s in July, Huang’s wife’s attorney Andrew McDevitt told Reuters that it was “clearly misleading to feature the video without any disclaimer or asterisk.”
Huang’s deadly crash was most likely brought on by his distraction and the limits of Autopilot, the National Transportation Safety Board found in 2020. According to the report, the crash was partly caused by Tesla’s “ineffective monitoring of driver engagement.”
According to Elluswamy, drivers can “fool the system,” tricking a Tesla system into thinking they are paying attention by providing false feedback from the steering wheel.
But if drivers were paying attention, he claimed he did not see any safety concerns with Autopilot.
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