Tesla hits a new bump, accused of staging self-driving promotional video
Tesla seems to have hit another bump, and this time for allegedly staging a video that demonstrated its electric cars' self-driving technology. Reuters has cited a senior engineer of the automaker who claimed that the 2016 video that Tesla used to promote its self-driving technology was staged to show capabilities like stopping at a red light and accelerating at a green light. He claimed that Tesla cars were originally not capable of doing that.
The video, which was released in October 2016, remains archived on Tesla's website. It was promoted on Twitter by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, citing evidence that the EV maker's cars can drive themselves. However, Ashok Elluswamy, director of Tesla's Autopilot software, said during a lawsuit against the automaker that the Model X shown in the video was not driving itself with the claimed self-driving technology. This was the first time a Tesla employee confirmed and detailed how the video was actually produced to show the self-driving technology's capability falsely.
The 2016 Tesla video carries a tagline saying that “The person in the driver’s seat is only there for legal reasons. He is not doing anything. The car is driving itself." Elluswamy reportedly said Tesla’s Autopilot team set out to engineer and record a demonstration of the system’s capabilities at the request of Elon Musk. He also said that the video was reportedly made using 3D mapping software on a predetermined route, and drivers intervened to take control in test runs. The Tesla engineer further revealed that when trying to show the Model X could park itself without a driver, a test car crashed into a fence in a parking lot. This revelation comes at a time when the EV manufacturer is sailing through troubled water.
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Despite Tesla claiming the Autopilot system as a radical technology enabling its cars to drive on their own, experts have claimed the technology is actually a wannabe autonomous driving software. Tesla itself has warned drivers that they must keep their hands on the wheel and maintain control of their vehicles while using Autopilot, which clearly states that the technology is not at all fully autonomous. However, while demonstrating the technology, it has claimed Autopilot enables the cars to drive themselves.
Tesla Autopilot technology is actually designed to assist the driver with steering, braking, speed and lane changes. But that doesn't make this system-enabled vehicle fully autonomous.