Musk oversaw the staging of Tesla’s self-driving video, the emails show

Elon Musk looks cool, because he's cunning.
Zoom in / Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Inc. , to court during the SolarCity trial in Wilmington, Delaware, on Tuesday, July 13, 2021. Musk was cool but combative as he testified in a Delaware courtroom that Tesla’s more than $2 billion purchase of SolarCity in 2016 was not a bailout of the solar power provider stumbled. Musk was victorious in this case, but he has a lot of legal troubles to get rid of.

Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images

If there was any doubt that Tesla CEO Elon Musk knew that the much-watched 2016 self-driving demonstration was staged, it’s Emails obtained by Bloomberg We should put that to rest. “I just want to be absolutely clear that everyone’s top priority is to achieve a great Autopilot test drive,” Musk wrote in an email. “Since this is a demo, it’s okay to code some of it, because we’ll be repopulating the production code later in an OTA update.”

Musk saw little flaw in this strategy, saying, “I’m going to tell the world that’s what *she *will* be able to do, not that she can do it on receiving,” he wrote. But instead of making it clear, the video, It was released to the world via Musk’s Twitter accountinstead opens with white text on a black background telling the viewer that “The person in the driver’s seat is just there for legal reasons. He’s not doing anything. The car is driving itself.”

Musk took to Twitter the day of the video’s release to let his followers know The car can read parking signsAnd he knew that he was not standing in a place designated for the disabled. as claimed That someone could use a “call” function in a car parked on the other side of the country.

But Summon was only released to Tesla drivers three years later. The result was disappointingas the system struggled with navigating low-speed parking lots in such a way that the suggestion that the system could drive 3,000 miles on public roads unassisted somewhat belittles it.

As we now know from Tesla’s head of autopilot Ashok Elluswamy, the parking demo actually saw the Model X SUV crash into a fence. New York Times article 2021– now mostly corroborated by Elluswamy’s testimony in a lawsuit in Walter Huang’s death – he also alleged that the car had gone over a curb and through some bushes before finding the fence.

This isn’t the first time Tesla has shown difficulty with facts. We found out in 2019 That the company’s repeated claims that autopilot reduced accidents by 40 percent were false, and in fact, the system may have increased crash incidents by 59 percent.

in the same yearThe National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had to tell Tesla that it was misleading customers by claiming that NHTSA had called the Tesla Model 3 the safest car it had ever tested.

Again with feeling

According to Bloomberg, the video that Tesla released on October 20, 2016 has been the subject of much review. Musk’s anarchic management style — revealed to the world after his recent purchase of Twitter — was on display at the time.

On October 11, 2016, Musk told the staff that everyone would be required to write a daily log detailing their contributions to the demo; At Twitter, Musk asked employees to print out the latest lines of code for their review, something that was later quietly rescinded (presumably once reality came out). Days after Musk issued the daily record request, a fourth draft was shared with Musk. This time, the CEO thought there were too many cuts and that the demo should appear “like one continuous shot”.

In real-world conditions, the performance of autopilot and newer and more controversial “full self-driving” systems remains poor. NHTSA has several investigations open into whether Tesla’s driver assistance systems are safe, including one Yet hundreds of reports of placebo braking behaviouranother to determine if Tesla cars are able to detect the presence of motorcyclists After killing at least two riders After Tesla beat them, a third in a mile Tesla crashes into emergency cars.

Criminal charges are also possible. Intentional deception of investors or customers remains a crime in the United States, And federal prosecutors were looking into Whether Tesla and Musk’s claims about their driver assistance systems match this snag remains to be seen. Elluswamy’s testimony certainly doesn’t help Tesla’s case.

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