Elon Musk reportedly personally supervised the first augmented Autopilot demo

In the fall of 2016, Tesla announced that its cars will be capable of driving independently. Then the manufacturer added cameras around its vehicles, which should be enough to achieve this goal. As a demonstration, this video was published: a Model X exiting its garage by itself, letting in a person who should only be there for legal reasons and never touching the steering wheel, delivers it at the office, dropped it off at the front doors and ended up in the parking lot itself.

More than six years after this video was published, the reality is still far from this promise. Sure, the beta version of Tesla’s self-driving software made big strides in the US, but even then drivers needed to log in regularly and remain very attentive at all times. Faced with this discrepancy between promises and reality, several legal actions have been launched in the United States, including one brought by the family of an Autopilot victim following an accident that occurred in 2018. .

During hearings related to the case Ashok Elluswamy, current director at Tesla in charge of Autopilot, testified that the 2016 video was actually a scene that in no way reflected the car’s true capabilities. To achieve driving this Model X without a driver actively driving, the manufacturer created a highly accurate 3D map of the route between a house in Menlo Park and Palo Alto, where Tesla was headquartered at the time. Contrary to what the video initially indicated, the driver was actually forced to intervene during filming and the car ran into bushes during tests for the final sequence where it parked on its own .

Even more embarrassing for Tesla, Ashok Elluswamy acknowledged that “the purpose of the video is not to show exactly what will be available to customers in 2016. It is to show what is possible to do with the system.”. A statement reported by Reuters which has access to the hearing report and which is a complete contradiction to the opening card. He could convince the courts that there was indeed misleading advertising at the time and perhaps put the manufacturer in trouble, especially in front of customers who were increasingly unhappy about paying for promises that were never fulfilled.

The first frame of the video could not be more explicit: it is meant to be a representation of what Teslas can do in 2016.

To accompany these affidavits, Bloomberg he got his hands on emails that would prove that Elon Musk was directly in charge of the production of this video. The first message sent – at two in the morning – ten days before the announcement asked everyone within the Autopilot team to make the demonstration a top priority. From the very beginning, the CEO will recognize that this is a demonstration of future capabilities and not of current ones, which made it possible to cheat a bit, by “hard-coding” the behavior of the car according to the route to do. follow

Future updates, sent remotely to the entire Tesla fleet, are expected to replace this temporary code for the production version. In this same email, Elon Musk asserted this point according to the report of Bloomberg : the goal is to show Tesla’s future capabilities, this will be its message. However, after a few days, the tone would have changed. In another email shared by the site, he opined that the video looked too fake, as there were too many editing cuts. The goal is to get close to a reliable demonstration and besides, he will be asked to add the text at the beginning, but contradicts his first instructions.

When the video was posted, Elon Musk posted a tweet that also leaves no doubt. This video is not meant to be a demonstration of upcoming capabilities. His message was in the present tense and he bluntly stated that the car could drive without any human interaction, which was false.

This new information confirms the information published at the end of 2021 by New York Times. The daily interviewed former Tesla employees who worked on the Autopilot project and they questioned the video and directly implicated Elon Musk. He, in particular, will opt for “Tesla Vision”, a system based exclusively on cameras to achieve autonomous driving. A bet that the American manufacturer is almost alone in making, its competitors rely on many sensors, radar and LiDAR in mind.

Elon Musk would have pushed the vision bet on Tesla against all odds

Elon Musk would have pushed the vision bet on Tesla against all odds

Elon Musk has also reiterated in recent years that the three-dimensional maps used by other players, including Google’s Waymo, are a bad idea because they are too difficult to generalize globally and require constant refinement. update. Tesla’s solution, based on cameras and artificial intelligence to best mimic human capabilities, will thus be superior, he said, and the only option to achieve the goal of fully autonomous driving.

Tesla stimulates his neurons for his long-term vision

Tesla stimulates his neurons for his long-term vision

Except we now know that the 2016 demonstration was based on these famous 3D maps and six years later, cars on the market still can’t do without them…

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