Tesla’s FSD video ad from 2016 was a dangerous fake, ex-employee confesses
Ashok Elluswamy, formerly Director of the Autopilot Software branch of Tesla Inc., has revealed in his pre-trial testimony that the video advertisement the company filmed six years ago praising the virtues of Autopilot was staged and the car actually crashed during the test.
According to Reuters, the video did not reflect the actual capabilities of the software – neither at the time it was filmed nor even now, after numerous improvements. Adding insult to injury is the fact that the ad is still present on the car manufacturer’s official website.
The video, Elluswamy alleged, was filmed on a specially prepared and pre-tested route in California. The Tesla Model X depicted therein was not going in full-on automatic mode in the city and the suburb as the description claimed. Tesla had misleadingly stated that the person behind the steering wheel was present there solely for legal reasons and not because the car needed a driver.
Elluswamy denied this, revealing that the company actually had to go through numerous failed attempts before it was finally able to film a successful video. The driver kept overtaking manual control of the Model X due to Autopilot errors, and even the final footage had to be edited: the scene where the car attempted to park itself allegedly culminated in it crashing into a fence. Understandably, the scene was cut from the ad.
Summing up his deposition, the engineer said the Autopilot software was unable to steer the car properly back when it was introduced – and still hasn’t learned to. Tesla did include a cunningly phrased clause about the video only serving as a ‘theoretical demonstration’ of the car’s hardware and software capabilities, rather than its actual capabilities. Having said that we cannot blame the customers for getting the wrong idea.
Editor Andrew Raspopov