Tesla engineer says company is fake "full autopilot" Video: Report

Tesla engineer says company is fake "full autopilot" Video: Report

A Tesla video purporting to demonstrate the automaker’s self-driving capabilities was actually staged, according to claims by a senior engineer at the company, reported by Portal.

The video was shared in a 2016 blog post titled “Full Self-Driving Hardware on All Teslas,” which is still available. Before the almost 4-minute video begins, the text flashes on the screen: “The person in the driver’s seat is only there for legal reasons. He does nothing. The car drives itself.”

The video then shows a Tesla pulling out of a driveway, stopping at intersections and red lights, driving on a freeway, taking a person to an office complex, and then parallel parking itself, to the sound of The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It.” Black.” The driver’s hands hover directly under the steering wheel for the duration of the video.

CEO Elon Musk promoted the demonstration on Twitter, writing, “Tesla drives itself (no human input at all).”

But a senior engineer now says the footage was staged, Portal reported on Tuesday.

The news service cited a statement by Ashok Elluswamy, the company’s director of autopilot software, taken as part of a lawsuit over the death of a driver in a Tesla in 2018.

“The intent of the video was not to accurately represent what was available to customers in 2016. It was meant to represent what could be built into the system,” Elluswamy said, according to a transcript of his statement cited by Portal.

Elluswamy said the car was driving a predetermined route in the video and drivers stepped in to take control during test drives, Portal reported. He also testified that during attempts to show Model X self-parking without a driver, a test car crashed into a fence in Tesla’s parking lot, Portal reported.

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment. On its website, the company warns that “until truly driverless cars are validated and approved by regulators, drivers are responsible for their car and must remain in control of their car at all times.”

Tesla recalls more than 1 million vehicles 00:21

Complaints from families of accident victims

Elluswamy’s testimony was taken as part of a lawsuit in the death of Walter Huang, a 38-year-old Apple engineer who died in 2018 after his Tesla crashed into a freeway median on California’s Highway 101. The lawsuit, filed by Huang’s widow, alleges that Tesla advertised its self-driving systems as safer than they really were.

“Tesla is beta testing its Autopilot software on real drivers,” Mark Fong, the family attorney, said in a statement.

Huang believed his Model X was safer than a human-powered vehicle because [Tesla’s] claimed technical superiority in relation to the vehicle’s autopilot system,” the lawsuit says. According to the lawsuit, after Huang’s death, the automaker added safety features to the assisted driving system, including the ability to change lanes autonomously, to switch from one highway to another , exit the freeway, and engage automatic emergency braking — these functions would have saved Huang’s life, the suit claims.

The Huang family’s lawsuit is scheduled to go to trial in March. The suit is one of several faces of the company made up of families of killed drivers. According to the Associated Press, traffic safety agencies have investigated 35 accidents involving Teslas since 2016, killing 19 people.