According to testimony by Ashok Elluswamy, director of Autopilot software at Tesla, the company faked a 2016 video promoting its self-driving technology. It was first reported by Reuters.
The video, which is still on Tesla’s website, shows a Tesla Model X driving on urban, suburban, and highway streets, stopping at a red light, and accelerating at the green one. The video carries the tagline: “The person in the driver’s seat is there only for legal reasons. He is not doing anything. The car is driving itself.”
Elon Musk used the video as evidence to prove that Tesla “drives itself” by relying on its several built-in sensors and self-driving software. However, Ashok Elluswamy said that video was staged using 3D mapping on a predetermined route, which is a feature that is not available to consumers.
According to Elluswamy, drivers had to intervene to take control during test runs. The scenes that were left on the cutting room floor included the test car crashing into a fence in Tesla’s parking lot when trying to park itself without a driver.
In Musk’s July deposition, which was taken as evidence in a lawsuit against the company for a fatal 2018 crash, Elluswamy said Musk asked the Autopilot team to record a video demonstration of the system’s capabilities.
Musk promoted the video at the time by saying that Tesla vehicles require “no human input at all” in order to drive from urban streets to highways and to eventually find a parking spot. Neither Musk nor Tesla has commented on the matter.