Here’s the real story behind Tesla’s “staged” self-driving video

There have been many media reports that Tesla “staged” or “faked” a self-driving video today in 2016 after the testimony of a Tesla Autopilot executive was released, but here’s the full story.

In 2016, Tesla announced that all of its future vehicles would come with the necessary hardware to achieve full self-driving capability through software updates in the future.

7 years later, Tesla has yet to deliver on that promise, but the company still promises and is releasing a software update that brings the capability closer.

After the announcement in 2016, Tesla released a video demonstration of its self-driving technology.

The video showed a Model X driving a few miles alone through the Bay Area – going through a few stop signs and traffic lights before pulling into Tesla’s parking lot.

Here is the full video:


That was 7 years ago, so why are we talking about it now?

Today, many media reports appear with headlines that Tesla “staged” or “faked” the video.

These reports are all based on the testimony of Ashok Elluswamy, Tesla’s director of autopilot software, as part of the discovery for CEO Elon Musk’s lawsuit, which was filed by shareholders over claims he misled them.

In his statement, Elluswamy confirmed that Tesla used 3D mapping along a predetermined route to create the video. He also said that Tesla made the run several times and the test drivers intervened on several occasions.

The engineer added:

“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 also confirmed that the Autopilot team assembled the video as a “demonstration of the system’s capabilities,” at Musk’s request.

Nothing really new here

We already knew Tesla had to do all of that to create the video in 2017.

In 2017, Tesla released its Disengagement of Autonomous Mode report with the California DMV, confirming that it drove 550 autonomous miles in self-driving test vehicles with 168 disabling events in 2016.

While the data is for the whole of 2016, all kilometers were driven in the few weeks prior to the demonstration video.

Tesla clearly didn’t have the capacity to bring a self-driving system to market at the time, having just transitioned to working on its own technology with Mobileye on its driver-assistance system.

As we reported in 2017, Tesla drove a given route multiple times so the system could drive it once without freaking out for the video.

There is an argument that the video is actually “staged” based on this, but the real bone of contention is that the video begins with Tesla saying the following:

“The person in the driver’s seat is only there for legal reasons. He does nothing. The car drives itself.â€‌

Some say the commentary is inaccurate, but the car actually drives itself in the video, which is unedited, it’s just that it can’t do it from the parking lot. Tesla had to custom-build software and maps to do this, but the automaker never claimed otherwise.

Electrek’s take

I’m not sure why the media chose to run with these comments because they’re not really adding anything new that we haven’t known since 2017.

It’s certainly not an ideal presentation of the video, but I also don’t think you can suggest that Tesla lied or even mislead with the video. It showed what it was hoping to achieve with its self-driving car and showed that it was possible with custom software at the moment, but the video showed the car navigating that route itself.

In fact, Tesla could now drive the same route with a standard vehicle equipped with Full Self-Driving Beta.

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Hey, I am Sakib Hossain Sojib, an entrepreneur known as an SEO Specialist, Digital Marketer, Blogger, and Content Creator. I have a team of researchers who guide and review products for our audience to help them by providing valuable information to help our audience makes the best decisions for their needs. I love to take care of my cars. So, I like and enjoy car maintenance and automotive research. The provided content is based on my learning, research, and understanding of the topic and its concept. Our extensive experience in the industry allows us to offer unique insights and perspectives on the latest trends and products. We aim to educate and empower our readers by providing them with the knowledge they need to make informed decisions about their needs.

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