Report: Tesla Employees Prioritized Testing Resources for CEO Musk and Influencers

Chris Teague
by Chris Teague

Despite all the regulatory flak, Tesla’s advanced driver assistance technologies are popular with owners, and there is no shortage of internet influencers with heavily-produced videos singing their praises. A new report from Business Insider (BI) suggests that those influencers and some of the company’s executives may have received preferential treatment during those “tests,” as the automaker may have assigned a higher level of human scrutiny to their routes over those of the general public.

Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD) features can be helpful in taking the load off of human drivers in some situations, but the company employs several real, breathing people behind the scenes to review camera footage and help keep things in check. According to the BI report, those data annotators paid extra-close attention to the systems when CEO Elon Musk or one of the small army of influencers were behind the wheel, potentially draining resources from monitoring the driving habits of everyone else.

Sources said the annotators were told to heavily monitor Tesla usage around specific locations, such as around Twitter’s HQ in San Francisco when Musk bought the company. The workers, who were usually judged on the volume of data they could process, were told to take extra care and time with Musk’s vehicles.

Tesla’s annotators were also told to monitor influencers’ videos, focusing heavily on people the company thought could post opinions on its software’s functionality. Some said they’d been told they were working on “VIP data,” noting that they would focus on their home areas and routes they were most likely to take during testing.

[Images: Shutterstock and Tesla]

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Chris Teague
Chris Teague

Chris grew up in, under, and around cars, but took the long way around to becoming an automotive writer. After a career in technology consulting and a trip through business school, Chris began writing about the automotive industry as a way to reconnect with his passion and get behind the wheel of a new car every week. He focuses on taking complex industry stories and making them digestible by any reader. Just don’t expect him to stay away from high-mileage Porsches.

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  • Jer65725303 Jer65725303 2 days ago
    I hate the word "influencers" and refuse to use it or give them credit. They are people who have creatively amassed followers/subscribers but have no real credibility in most cases, only opinions. They don't deserve recognition beyond "people who have lots of followers or subscribers. I rank them up there with Yelpers and little twits on IG, OF and other social media sites who are self aggrandizing. The Simpsons got it right years ago: If you ignore them they'll go away.
  • ToolGuy ToolGuy 2 days ago
    Can't comment right now; my laptop battery is only at 85%.
  • Zerofoo “Can the sedan be saved?” Sure - just lift it a bit, add a mild all wheel drive system, and make the trunk a lift back. I don’t know a single middle-aged woman who doesn’t drive a CUV. Precisely none of them want to go back to a sedan. The sedan may not be die completely, but sedans will not replace CUV/SUVs any time in the foreseeable future.
  • Jeff Stevie Ray Vaughn Flood Down In Texas and almost any song from him.
  • Kjhkjlhkjhkljh kljhjkhjklhkjh bectha they don't get the key...
  • Aja8888 That's such a horrible car and ad, I can't even post about it.
  • Jeff I don't believe sedans will completely disappear but manufacturers will offer less sedans. The trend to make sedans 4 door coupes with slopping roof lines, smaller mail slot trunks, rubber band tires, lower slung to where they bottom out over a speed bump, having to crawl down to get into them, having to bend your head in the rear in order not to hit your head on the rear glass, and less head and leg room. I blame coupe like sedans not just on aerodynamics but on car journalists that judge all cars on being sports cars and the ability to canyon carve. Its form over function resulting in more suv, cuv, and pickup truck sales. This would be a good time for Lincoln, Cadillac, and Buick to offer a full size 4 door sedan with a decent sized interior, good sized trunk, comfortable ride, with a V-8, and rear wheel drive. Could build a Lincoln Continental on a stretched Mustang platform and GM could stretch the former Camaro platform to make a Cadillac Deville and Buick Roadmaster or Electra. These would not sell in the number that F-150s or Silverados would but they could sell enough to be profitable. Don't make them canyon carvers just make them comfortable and smooth riding with decent handling. Car journalists might not like these but this is what many miss from the past and they would sell. Many not all car journalists are out of touch with what most consumers want in a vehicle.