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Elon Musk Reportedly Oversaw Staged Tesla Self-Driving Demo

SlashGear 1/20/2023 Alex Hevesy
Tesla Elon Musk silhouette © kovop/Shutterstock Tesla Elon Musk silhouette

The Tesla "Full Self Driving" feature is one of the brand's biggest draws for potential consumers. According to Tesla, the $15,000 feature allows the car to change lanes automatically, park itself, stop at appropriate places and times in traffic, and generally make life easier for the driver.


It's important to note, that despite the moniker of "Full Self-Driving," Tesla states: 

"The currently enabled features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous" and "The activation and use of these features are dependent on achieving reliability far in excess of human drivers as demonstrated by billions of miles of experience, as well as regulatory approval ..."

In 2016, according to Bloomberg, Tesla released a Full Self-Driving demo video. The video showed the feature's impressive capabilities, and that maybe fully autonomous driving was closer than the public had thought. The video served to build up hype for Tesla, and the seemingly magical technology it had came years before every other manufacturer's version of self-driving. But as new details come to light, the Tesla and Elon Musk may not have been as forthcoming as the general public believed.

Not Exactly Full Self-Driving

Tesla cars parked charging © Tesla Tesla cars parked charging

Per the Bloomberg report, Elon Musk was reportedly behind the demo video that seemed to completely exaggerate the Full Self-Driving abilities, even sending emails as late as 2 a.m. to the team to make sure the demo was perfect on release. In the emails, Musk said, "Just want to be absolutely clear that everyone's top priority is achieving an amazing Autopilot demo drive ... Since this is a demo, it is fine to hardcode some of it, since we will backfill with production code later in an OTA [over-the-air] update."

Elon Musk was adamant that the video showed what was maybe possible in the future, and not what the car was realistically capable of today. The finished video shows a Tesla Model X effortlessly driving autonomously to a Rolling Stones soundtrack. A text crawl before the video reads "The person in the driver's seat is only there for legal reasons. He is not doing anything. The car is driving itself." 

With a disclaimer like that at the beginning of the video, it's easy to see who people may be misled by the company's claims of having pioneered a self-driving car.

Read this next: The Transformation Of Tesla From 2003 To 2022


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