Ex Tesla employees claim 2016 ‘Full Self-Driving’ video was staged
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An early video from Tesla, famously promoting its self-driving Autopilot 2.0 system in 2016, was staged according to former employees recently interviewed by the New York Times.
Two former members of the Autopilot team, who spoke anonymously in fear of retribution, told the newspaper that the car filmed in the original promo used a three-dimensional digital map of the route that had been planned ahead, a feature that is unavailable to drivers using the commercial version of the system.
They also alleged that during filming, the car hit a roadside barrier on Tesla property while using Autopilot and had to be repaired.The video (which is still used to promote Tesla's Autopilot today), apparently edited out footage of the accident.
When Autopilot 2.0 was released in October 2016, Elon Musk said in a press conference that all new Tesla cars would include the cameras, computing power, and all other hardware required for “full self-driving.” The video in question is titled “Autopilot Full Self-Driving Hardware (Neighborhood Long).”
The video shows a Tesla with a driver behind the wheel, and a caption that reads, "The person in the driver's seat is only there for legal reasons. He is not doing anything. The car is driving itself."
When the Tesla CEO made these claims at a news conference in 2016, his engineering team was taken aback, with some feeling that he was promising something that was not possible.
Musk is accused of ignoring his engineers’ concerns and overselling the capabilities of Tesla’s advanced driver aids for years.
This news comes as part of a more thorough investigative story that alleges Tesla may have sacrificed overall safety to fit the vision of Autopilot conceived by CEO Elon Musk. The report considers the information gathered by 19 former Tesla employees, all of whom spoke anonymously.
According to the investigation, the video may have been more of a conception promo than tech that was readily available at that time.
The engineers added that Tesla’s decision to stop using radar was also resisted internally. The decision was driven by Musk’s assertion that a human can drive with eyes, so a car should be able to drive with cameras. This analogy has been blatantly refuted by other autonomous driving researchers.
Schuyler Cullen, who oversaw Samsung’s autonomous driving team, says “cameras are not eyes! Pixels are not retinal ganglia! The F.S.D. computer is nothing like the visual cortex!”
Others have chimed in on the matter too, with Amnon Shashua, CEO of Mobileye, accusing Tesla of being driven more by sales than facts.
“One should not be hung up on what Tesla says,” Shashua says. “Truth is not necessarily their end goal. The end goal is to build a business.”
The New York Times say they've made multiple requests to Elon Musk and a “top Tesla lawyer ” over several weeks for a comment on the story, all of which remain unanswered.