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A 2016 promotional video about Tesla's autopilot turned out to be staged - in fact, the car drove into the fence.

Published: 2023-01-18

Tesla's 2016 Model X video showing Tesla's Autopilot capabilities was actually staged. This was announced by a former employee of the company when giving evidence in court. In fact, the driver was driving the car, and the system did not have such functions as stopping at a red light and starting at a green light.

Watch video on TikTok (TikTok)

This video, which can still be found on the Tesla website, was published in October 2016 and was used by the CEO of Elon Musk as proof that "Tesla's electric car drives itself." The video contains the tagline: "The person in the driver's seat is only there for legal reasons. He does not do anything. The car drives itself." After posting the video, Musk tweeted: "Tesla drives itself (without human intervention) through city streets to the highway, then to the streets, and then finds a parking space."

However, the Model X electric car did not drive on its own under the control of Tesla Autopilot, according to the transcript of the testimony of Tesla Autopilot Software Director Ashok Elluswamy. He gave this testimony in a lawsuit against Tesla over a fatal accident that occurred in March 2018 in which an Apple engineer died. And Tesla then admitted that the autopilot was on at the time of the accident.

Elluswami said the video was created using 3D mapping of a predetermined route from a home in Menlo Park, California to Tesla's then headquarters in Palo Alto. At the same time, during the filming, drivers had to take control of the car. According to him, while trying to show the Model X's ability to park without a driver, the car crashed into a fence in the company's parking lot. It was also noted that Elon Musk himself instructed to shoot the video.

“The purpose of the video was not to show exactly what was available to customers in 2016, but to show what could be built into the system,” said Elluswami. Asked if the video showed the capabilities of the Tesla Autopilot system available in production cars at the time, Elluswami replied, “It didn’t.”

According to the lawyer representing the wife of the deceased former Apple employee in the lawsuit, this video was clearly misleading users about the capabilities of the Tesla Autopilot.