A Tesla Used for a Self-Driving Autopilot Promotional Video Crashed During Filming

As electric vehicles (EVs) continue to gain widespread popularity, Tesla has been at the forefront of innovation and controversy. One of Tesla’s most touted features is its Full Self Driving (FSD) Beta system. Despite being investigated for accidents and safety hazards, FSD is currently being beta tested by drivers. The system is a long way away from being truly self-driving, as evidence of some new details surrounding an old Tesla promotional video surfaces.

Tesla, creator of autopilot, speaking in front of a white background with Tesla written in red at the top dressed in a suit.
Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk | Getty Images

The original Tesla commercial

According to Jalopnik, the video, which has been on Tesla’s website since 2016, was meant to show off the autopilot feature. The marvel of technology was further enhanced by Tesla’s disclaimer text at the beginning of the video that the driver was just present for legal purposes but wasn’t actually operating the car. The driver sits with hands and feet throughout the video, never controlling the vehicle as it navigates around different traffic situations.

The uninvolved driver is a familiar scene with the testing and promotion of today’s developing autonomous vehicles. Some Tesla drivers have even taken the hands-off approach to the extreme and have been caught sleeping behind the wheel.

Either way, the technology and promise of truly autonomous vehicles for taxi cabs and daily drivers continues to captivate many. Business Insider mentions that the two concepts have long been touted as a way for Tesla owners to generate passive income.

Details revealed about the crash

Even Tesla head Elon Musk has been critical of the Full Self-Driving feature, and it is becoming more clear why he might feel that way. According to new information, the Tesla in the promo video actually crashed during filming, Business Insider continues. 

You can’t tell by watching the video, though, because the crash is conspicuously absent from the final cut. Apparently, the vehicle hit a roadside barrier while navigating the Tesla property, three unnamed people part of filming revealed. The collision was significant enough that the Tesla model had to be repaired before filming could continue. 

The editing is particularly unnerving given that the whole point of the video was to show off how sophisticated Tesla’s autopilot was and that all of its models had the software and capacity for being autonomous.

Further damaging revelations about the video

In addition to the covered-up crash, there’s more. The car in the video wasn’t even using the car’s standard autopilot feature, Jalopnik continued. Instead, the Tesla model was following a pre-planned route programmed for the car. 

The technology that Tesla used to accomplish the task wasn’t even something available to consumers in the standard autopilot version. To complete the demonstration, the car had three-dimensional maps of the course charted and inputted beforehand.


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The kicker is that even with all of that creative smoke and mirrors, the vehicle still managed to collide with an object along its carefully orchestrated path. Despite the crash and its revelation, the video is still up on the company’s website.

It’s not entirely surprising that this damaging revelation hasn’t elicited a response from Tesla just yet. The carmaker faces a slew of other legal issues surrounding recent crashes, in addition to the controversies Elon Musk stirs up. Most recently, Musk might be called to be a witness in a trial regarding a fatal Tesla self-pilot crash.

Even though some brands admit that electric vehicles may not be for everyone, consumers still hope that Tesla and other EV makers were more upfront about potential hurdles in developing and testing technology.