Emails Show Elon Musk Was Directly Involved In Staged Self-Driving Video

Emails Show Elon Musk Was Directly Involved In Staged Self-Driving Video

Photo: Scott Olson / Staff (Getty Images)

Earlier this week, we reported that a Tesla engineer testified that the automaker faked its self-driving Model X video back in 2016. It wasn’t just a low-level employee making these claims, either. It was Tesla’s director of Autopilot software, Ashok Elluswamy. And while you’d probably have been safe to assume Elon Musk was involved and knew what his employees were doing, internal emails now confirm exactly that.

Bloomberg reports that new emails confirm Musk was directly involved in faking the video, even going as far as to write the text shown at the beginning that claimed the car was driving itself. In one email, he made it clear that he wanted the video to show the car was better at self-driving than it actually was since it was just a demonstration of what Autopilot would eventually be able to do.

“Just want to be absolutely clear that everyone’s top priority is achieving an amazing Autopilot demo drive,” Musk wrote. “Since this is a demo, it is fine to hardcode some of it, since we will backfill with production code later in an OTA update. I will be telling the world that this is what the car *will* be able to do, not that it can do this upon receipt.”

It’s also worth noting that the above email was sent after 2 a.m. Pacific, which isn’t specifically relevant to the faked video. But it does make it look like Musk is a loser with no friends or anything else to do other than work. Loser.

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The emails also revealed that after the fourth version of the video was put together, Musk wanted further edits because the jump cuts didn’t make it look convincing enough. He then wrote that it “needs to feel like one continuous take.”

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Considering Tesla lawyers recently argued that “[m]ere failure to realize a long-term, aspirational goal is not fraud,” the news that the electric automaker faked a demonstration video that opened with text that read, “The person in the driver’s seat is only there for legal reasons. He is not doing anything. The car is driving itself,” seems pretty relevant. Musk’s direct involvement in the deceit just makes things look worse for Tesla since he now can’t claim he didn’t know.