A senior engineer at Tesla alleged that a 2016 video promoting the automaker’s self-driving technology was staged.
The video showed a Tesla Model X automatically stopping at a red light and then driving off once the light turned green, capabilities that Ashok Elluswamy, director of the company’s autopilot software, says didn’t actually exist at the time.
Despite the alleged shortcomings, a description on the video stated that the person in the driver’s seat was only there for “legal reasons.”
“He is not doing anything,” the description read. “The car is driving itself.”
Twitter CEO Elon Musk also promoted the video as proof that “Tesla drives itself.”
Elluswamy’s remarks, according to Reuters, were made during a July deposition after the company was sued for a fatal crash in 2018.
“The intent of the video was not to accurately portray what was available for customers in 2016,” Elluswamy said. “It was to portray what was possible to build into the system.”
Elluswamy’s explanation contradicts statements made by Musk after the video was released. In a tweet discussing the footage, Musk said that “Tesla drives itself (no human input at all) thru urban streets to highway to streets, then finds a parking spot.”
The revelation could be yet another public relations disaster for the automaker.
Earlier this month, the automaker was also forced to deal with the release of surveillance footage showing a Tesla reportedly using the self-driving feature causing an eight-vehicle crash in California.
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*First Published: Jan 18, 2023, 1:16 pm CST
Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.