Tesla chief admits 2016 autonomous driving video demonstrations were faked

In 2016, Tesla promised self-driving electric cars, demonstrating in a video how a car gets from point A to point B without driver intervention. Incidentally, the car obeys traffic signs and traffic lights, despite the fact that today’s assistance systems on Tesla still don’t offer these capabilities to the same level. Apparently the whole thing was 100% faked for the video, according to the Autopilot software director at the time.

Tesla was promising features that exceeded the cars actual capabilities

Ashok Elluswamy, admitted in a lawsuit, that what was publicly presented in 2016 did not represent the reality of Tesla’s autonomous driving technology at the time. Even though Elon Musk published it online saying that all Tesla models were already equipped with all the systems needed to enable “Full Self-Driving”, the activities shown in the clip were rigged.

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Full Self-Driving Hardware on All Teslas from Tesla on Vimeo.

Elluswamy says he doesn’t know exactly whether or not the driver in the car was using the accelerator and brake, but he can say with certainty that the car wasn’t going down that road the way autonomous driving software is supposed to, which is in dynamic mode. At the time, to demonstrate the technology, the Tesla team had to closely study the route and capture it in 3D to allow the car to follow it and not deviate from the predetermined path. Then, at the time, Tesla cars couldn’t distinguish traffic signs and couldn’t automatically stop at traffic lights or start at green lights.

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The actions shown in that clip were rather aspirational, with today’s Full Self-Driving technology, in beta stage, now equipped with improved algorithms and better hardware, still having problems with such situations.

These statements were made by Elluswamy in a lawsuit in which Tesla is involved. The family of Wei Huang, a Tesla owner, blames the company for his death. Huang died in 2018 in a crash while the Autopilot system was on, after hitting a highway barrier. The Autopilot system was on, but the car, a Model X, did not brake to avoid the impact.

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