Musk did not cooperate with the filmmakers, who concentrate on Tesla’s security file, a number of fatal accidents tied to the technology and maybe most importantly, Musk’s historical past of repeatedly saying that true self-driving technology is “two years away,” illustrated by clips of the CEO transferring the goalposts repeatedly since 2015.
In addition, the movie premieres as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened a new investigation into circumstances surrounding one other crash, involving a Tesla in Newport Beach, California, this month.

As Times reporter Cade Metz notes, when pressed about the subject Musk has tended to “double down on it,” including that in phrases of his public optimism relating to when that space-age idea would develop into actuality, “It’s very simple to say this stuff. And there isn’t any test on him.”

“Crash Course” consists of interviews with numerous regulators in addition to former Tesla workers, corresponding to software program engineer Raven Jiang, who make the factors that self-driving technology was seen as a major promoting level and that it is laborious to differentiate Musk’s relentless salesmanship from whether or not he absolutely believes what he is saying.

The producers additionally characteristic take a look at drives that display blind spots in the Autopilot perform, together with difficulties figuring out stationary objects that add to the threat issue.

Even with the needed disclaimers, the time period “self-driving” evokes sure expectations about the extent to which an individual behind the wheel must be engaged in its operation, which has muddied the protection. Musk’s excessive profile and swashbuckling entrepreneurial picture have additionally fed into the romance surrounding the firm, with Times reporter Neal Boudette saying, “Tesla followers hear what they need to hear.”

Tesla has mentioned that it is nonetheless the driver’s accountability to pay heed to what the automotive is doing even whereas in Autopilot, and that the driver must be able to take cost in case of issues with the software program.

But critics recommend that Musk’s pronouncements have fueled perceptions that transcend what Autopilot can at the moment accomplish, corresponding to an interview wherein he is proven saying that self-driving technology will quickly provide “full autonomy. Safer than a human.”

“There are too many individuals who construe the time period Autopilot to imply ‘Human engagement not needed,'” says former National Transportation Safety Board chairman Christopher Hart.

With Musk very a lot in the information, “Crash Course” presents a window into this inordinately outspoken and controversial billionaire and the company tradition that he fosters. Yet extra urgently, it raises questions on the security of Tesla homeowners after they make use of Autopilot now, not the place they’re going to be two years from now.

“The New York Times Presents Elon Musk’s Crash Course” premieres May 20 at 10 p.m. ET on FX and Hulu.

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