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posted by hubie on Saturday January 21, @12:26AM   Printer-friendly
from the you-weren't-supposed-to-take-us-literally dept.

The claim was made in a lawsuit over Walter Huang's fatal Model X crash in 2018:

Tesla's widely viewed 2016 Autopilot demonstration video showing the system stopping for red lights and moving off again when the light changed to green was faked, according to the director of Autopilot software, Ashok Elluswamy. Elluswamy made the statement under oath during a deposition for a lawsuit brought against Tesla following the fatal crash of Apple engineer Walter Huang in 2018.

The video, posted in October 2016 and still available on Tesla's website, begins with the caption: "The person in the driver's seat is only there for legal reasons. He is not doing anything. The car is driving itself." We then see a Tesla Model X leave a garage, and a driver enters the car as The Rolling Stones' "Paint it Black" begins to play.

[...] At the time, Tesla CEO Elon Musk publicized the video via his Twitter account, telling the world that "Tesla drives itself (no human input at all) thru urban streets to highway to streets, then finds a parking spot." Musk went on to add that "8 cameras, 12 ultrasonars and radar all flush mounted and body color. Beauty remains."

[...] But the Model X in the video was preprogrammed to drive from Menlo Park to Palo Alto, according to Elluswamy, who was a senior software engineer in 2019 before being promoted to head all Autopilot software development in 2019.

"The intent of the video was not to accurately portray what was available for customers in 2016. It was to portray what was possible to build into the system," Elluswamy said in his testimony, according to Reuters. 3D maps were used to pre-program the route, including where to stop, and during the self-parking demo a Tesla crashed into a fence, Elluswamy said.

The fatal crash occurred on Highway 101 in Mountain View, California, in March 2018 when Huang's Model X, operating under Autopilot, swerved into a highway crash attenuator at more than 70 mph. Tesla blamed Huang for the crash, claiming he was not paying attention. But according to the National Transportation Safety Board, Huang had repeatedly complained to friends and family about his car's propensity to swerve at that particular crash barrier in the past. The National Transportation Safety Board had harsh words for Tesla, CalTrans, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, all of which shared blame for the death, it said in 2020.

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by Ox0000 on Saturday January 21, @01:00AM (7 children)

    by Ox0000 (5111) on Saturday January 21, @01:00AM (#1287827)

    I'm shocked, shocked, I tell you, that what the marketing department put out is inaccurate in the slightest...

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by TheGratefulNet on Saturday January 21, @03:34AM (6 children)

      by TheGratefulNet (659) on Saturday January 21, @03:34AM (#1287835)

      you're kidding, right?

      its known that there is no PR or marketing group in that company and has not been for years.

      no customer support (I own a tesla and am careful not to break it, lest it sits on the repair queue for months on end) and no way to phone them or even email them. text only. and only if you open a ticket, first. mobile app only.

      beyond stupid. might be ok for low cost things sold to teens but not for high cost cars sold to adults.

      cant wait to dump my model 3 and get something else. as soon as warranty period approaches, it will be time.

      I dont recommend this brand for any of their cars. they never understood what quality meant and now they have a rogue ceo who does not even care about cars anymore.

      "It is now safe to switch off your computer."
      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by mcgrew on Saturday January 21, @02:47PM (3 children)

        by mcgrew (701) <> on Saturday January 21, @02:47PM (#1287897) Homepage Journal

        You seem to misunderstand how greed and its related evils work. They can't make them as fast as they're being sold. No electric vehicle manufacturer can, I've been trying to buy a Chevy Bolt or other affordable EV for months. Only a little easier than buying a real unicorn.

        So the more heartless, purely evil company rulers, like Musk, say "Fuck the fools who bought our product". Thankfully, established corporations aren't quite so short sighted and realize, unlike the greedy and stupid Musk, that repeat customers are valuable. I thank you for informing me, I might have bought a used Tesla had I not known.

        Luckily, unlike the obsolete Rube Goldberg piston engine with its pumps and pulleys and transmission and coolant and thousands of breakable moving parts, many made of rubber and plastic, electric motors need no maintenance. At age 70, I've seen exactly two electric motors fail. One was a fifty year old box fan that had a great big, unavailable capacitor fail, the other in 1971 when a fairly new cassette deck broke; a piece of plastic that was part of the motor broke. I fixed that one with super glue and the deck worked fine from then on.

        That's the second biggest reason I want to get rid of my obsolete Rube Goldberg vehicle, I spent almost $900 having a fuel pump replaced last year, and hate twice yearly oil changes and all the other routine maintenance that EVs don't need.

        The biggest reason I want one is I hate standing there in the snow filling its tank with carcinogens. I hate winter.

        The environment doesn't enter into it at all; we burn coal to make electricity here in Springfield, unlike the town's cartoon parody (the Cartoon mayor looks identical to the late Mayor Davlin, and Mr. Burns is identical to CWLP's former manager).

        Older than dirt? Kid, I was a BETA TESTER for dirt! We never did get all the bugs out.
        • (Score: 3, Informative) by ChrisMaple on Sunday January 22, @07:22AM (2 children)

          by ChrisMaple (6964) on Sunday January 22, @07:22AM (#1288029)

          Bearings don't last forever. Some electric motors fail when the bearings run out of lubricant.

          • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 23, @02:49AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 23, @02:49AM (#1288126)

            Lubricant fail:

            First thing I look at when someone brings me a failed piece of stuff. Blow on the fan!

            If the fan spins, I have a fighting chance of making the thing work. I used to routinely, on my stuff, lubricate the fan bearings of my stuff. The old stuff wasn't hard to get to, and a bottle of fine silicone oil and a box of insulin syringes went a long way

            Corporate took over, I lost control of my tools and equipment,. Everything went outsource. Nobody seemed to know what did what anymore. The old guys ( me included ) became unwanted burdens as we were quite argumentative about what we considered unnecessary changes.

            We lost the engineers who built the company, replaced by those holding degrees in marketing, butt kissing, and assholery.

            The company soon fell apart, with our labs razed to build new warehouses for imported goods. The fancy administration building was kept. Its now a church, which is fitting, to beat our swords into ploughshares.

            All of our equipment is gone. I wonder if they kept the corporate barber shop intact.

          • (Score: 2) by mcgrew on Thursday January 26, @08:14PM

            by mcgrew (701) <> on Thursday January 26, @08:14PM (#1288778) Homepage Journal

            I believe I mentioned above that at age 70, I've seen exactly two electric motors fail. One was an antique box fan with a bad capacitor which is no longer used, and the other was a broken plastic piece in a cassette deck motor I repaired with super glue.

            Yes, nothing lasts forever, but a machine with one moving part (electric motor) against a machine with thousands of moving parts (gasoline engine) is no contest at all. Two failures in 70 years is a pretty damned good track record. Oh, neither motor failure had anything to do with lubrication.

            Older than dirt? Kid, I was a BETA TESTER for dirt! We never did get all the bugs out.
      • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Saturday January 21, @08:06PM (1 child)

        by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Saturday January 21, @08:06PM (#1287954) Journal

        I took the gp as saying that corporate exaggeration is legion, whether or not done by a marketing department. The C-suite is notorious that way. Corporations are under loads of pressure to deliver, and often resort to outright lies. More often, it is predictions and projections of the near term future that, while not impossible are highly improbable. Remember the term "vaporware"?

        One of the hottest of current wants is quantum computing. Pretty regularly hear announcements of breakthroughs there. Another elusive goal is energy from nuclear fusion. Infamous vaporware includes that of the defunct Theranos corporation. Duke Nukem Forever became the meme for vaporware. The delays were so long that when it finally was released, it was very dated, far behind state of the art gaming. As Duke Nukem Forever was only a game, that was merely disappointing, not at all life threatening. Still another case was the fuss over stem cells. History is full of examples of organizational hubris, denial, and crossings of the line into fraud.

        Tesla has a lot of red flags. I was interested in a model 3 when they first came out, or perhaps a model y, but the more I read and heard and learned, the less attractive Tesla seemed. I thought maybe, a new automotive manufacturer would finally succeed, and take its place among the giants. It wouldn't be another DeLorean, or Tucker. But now? I am more doubtful.

        • (Score: 2) by aafcac on Sunday January 22, @01:40AM

          by aafcac (17646) on Sunday January 22, @01:40AM (#1287985)

          Exaggeration is one thing. This probably is fraud. Unlike when other companies do it, Tesla had repeatedly done this and failed to follow through on the promises. If they were anywhere near the level they promised, it would be different.

  • (Score: 1) by Runaway1956 on Saturday January 21, @02:32AM

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Saturday January 21, @02:32AM (#1287831) Homepage Journal

    Remember when they programmed that tractor-trailer to roll down a hill? Kudos to the programmer. Normal people never could have figured out how to fall deeper into a gravity well.

    Don’t confuse the news with the truth.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by RamiK on Saturday January 21, @03:56AM (3 children)

    by RamiK (1813) on Saturday January 21, @03:56AM (#1287838)

    Elluswamy said drivers could “fool the system,” making a Tesla system believe that they were paying attention based on feedback from the steering wheel when they were not. But he said he saw no safety issue with Autopilot if drivers were paying attention.

    ( [] )

    Self-driving removes the feedback that keeps people focused on the road so requiring them to keep their hands on the wheel and eyes on the road doesn't change the fact their reaction times significantly worsen even when they're trying to pay attention.

    And yes. It's been known for years and there's plenty of research to back that up: [] []

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by sjames on Saturday January 21, @07:57AM (2 children)

      by sjames (2882) on Saturday January 21, @07:57AM (#1287861) Journal

      The idea that the human driver can just take over when the automation gets into a sticky situation reminds me of the old silent film shorts when the steering wheel comes loose and the driver hands it to the passenger as if they can do something useful with it.

      • (Score: 2) by aafcac on Sunday January 22, @01:43AM (1 child)

        by aafcac (17646) on Sunday January 22, @01:43AM (#1287986)

        I think that it probably should be 15 minutes maximum at a time with s cool down in between until it's legitimately good enough to handle typical driving conditions

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22, @02:49AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 22, @02:49AM (#1288005)

          Nope. Once on it should not be able to hand control back to the human driver until stopped. But it should also have an automatic penalty to the manufacturer of 100 million dollars per crash, unless they can prove that it was 100% the other driver's fault. (eg, being rear-ended while stopped at a red light).
          Don't care how minor it was, if the autopilot dings someone's bumper while parking, $100,000,000 penalty. That will make them get it right before releasing it.

  • (Score: 3, Touché) by ChrisMaple on Sunday January 22, @07:27AM (1 child)

    by ChrisMaple (6964) on Sunday January 22, @07:27AM (#1288030)

    "My car keeps running into things when I let go of the steering wheel."

    Does that suggest a reasonable course of action?

    • (Score: 2) by aafcac on Monday January 23, @05:39AM

      by aafcac (17646) on Monday January 23, @05:39AM (#1288141)

      Yes, you need your car aligned. It's only supposed to do that if it's a Tesla and there's an emergency vehicle on the shoulder.