An insider tells a US court how Tesla falsified the results of test videos for autonomous cars

An insider tells a US court how Tesla falsified the results of test videos for autonomous cars

In another serious blow to the US electric car specialist’s credibility, a Tesla engineer has told a US court how the company faked the true capabilities of its autonomous driving technology while creating a promotional video.

US electric car specialist Tesla has come under renewed scrutiny for over-promising the true capabilities – and limitations – of its semi-autonomous driving technology.

An exclusive report from the news agency Reuters has unearthed US court documents listing the testimony of a Tesla engineer who revealed how a video promoting semi-autonomous technology was actually staged.

Tesla had previously been accused of staging the video in 2021, but this is the first time a Tesla employee has revealed what happened.

The bombshell revelations came to light as road safety agencies in the US and Europe launched investigations into the role of Tesla’s semi-autonomous driving systems in serious injuries and fatalities.

There is a suspicion that the technology is flawed and/or drivers are overly relying on the technology.

Tesla has been banned from calling the system “Full Self-Driving” in some jurisdictions because the technology doesn’t work in all conditions and drivers need to remain in proper control at all times. It’s meant to be a safety net, not the main driver of the vehicle.

Traffic safety agencies are concerned that Tesla’s description of the technology will cause some drivers to become complacent or over-reliant on the technology.

With that in mind, testimonies by a Tesla engineer in a US court make chilling reading.

The Tesla video at the center of the recent controversy was released by the automaker in 2016 “as proof that ‘Tesla drives itself,'” according to the news outlet Reuters reported overnight Australian time.

However, the Tesla Model X SUV used in the video demonstration was not driving itself, according to court documents unearthed by Reuters.

During the making of the video, “drivers intervened to take control during test runs” and “when attempting to demonstrate that Model X could park itself without a driver, a test car crashed into a fence in Tesla’s parking lot.” Reuters said the US court documents revealed.

“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 (in the future),” the Tesla engineer reportedly told a U.S. court, according to a transcript of the testimony seen by the Reuters news agency.

“When asked if the 2016 video showed the performance of the Tesla Autopilot system that was available in a production car at the time,[theTeslaengineersaid’Itdoesn’t'”

Read the full story from Reuters – the result of an extensive investigation – here.

Joshua Dowling has been a motoring journalist for over 20 years, most of his time working for The Sydney Morning Herald (as motor editor and one of the early members of the Drive team) and News Corp Australia. He joined CarAdvice / Drive in 2018 and has been a World Car of the Year judge for more than 10 years.

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