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Tesla allegedly faked a video promoting its self-driving technology in 2016


A semi-fictional promotional video. A clip used by Tesla in 2016 to promote its self-driving technology was faked, according to testimony from the current Autopilot software director and former principal engineer. An advertisement shared in particular by Elon Musk in person and aimed at proving that “Tesla drives itself”remember Reuters who relays the information.

A pre-mapped route

The video, still available on the web, featured the supposedly autonomous driving of a Model X. In reality, the car used for the clip did not drive fully autonomously, according to testimony from Ashok Elluswamy, director of Autopilot software at Tesla . The latter was heard in July 2022 as part of a lawsuit against Tesla after a fatal accident in 2018.

“The person in the driver’s seat is only there for legal reasons. They don’t do anything. The car drives itself”then indicated a message before the launch of the clip.

To carry out the demonstration, the Model X would have been based on autonomous driving but also on a “predetermined route”, previously mapped in 3D. The car “used pre-mapped additional information to drive“, recognized Elluswamy, formerly an engineer within the team in charge of the video. A confirmation of the previous revelations of the New York Times about this marketing subtlety.

A first confirmation

In his deposition, Ashok Elluswamy also mentions the absence, at the time, of recognition of traffic lights by the Autopilot system. However, the promotional video showed a certain intelligence of the car when approaching these signals. In his deposition, he fails to explain this mystery.

The intent of the video was not to accurately portray what was available to customers in 2016. It was intended to portray what was possible to build into the system“, tried to justify the person in charge of the Autopilot software of Tesla.

An unpublished testimony which officially confirms the semi-fictional dimension of the clip and supports the previous assumptions of the experts. Contacted by Reuters, neither Ashok Elluswamy, nor Tesla, nor Elon Musk wanted to comment on the case.

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