The commercial sparked a spate of news articles and criticism of Tesla’s software, which is being tested in an early version by more than 100,000 users on public streets in the United States. countries, including the United States and Canada. It also sparked backlash from Tesla supporters who said the test could have been rigged. Some of them tried to recreate the demonstrations — sometimes involving real children — in an effort to show that Tesla’s software really works.
The back and forth is the latest escalation in an ongoing feud between Tesla’s vocal fan community and critics of its driver assistance software.
How Auto Regulators Played Brain Games With Elon Musk
The man behind the Dawn Project, tech founder and billionaire Dan O’Dowd, has become an unlikely and controversial leader of the latter group. He runs Green Hills Software, which makes operating systems for airplanes and cars, potentially making it a competitor in the automotive software market. He also ran for the US Senate this year, broadcasting his videos on TV and online as campaign ads. (One of those ads features coverage from The Washington Post, which was not involved.)
O’Dowd says his motivation for going after Tesla is a belief that the technology, like many other pieces of software people rely on in the modern world, isn’t secure enough and needs to be redesigned — and in this case, it has to. forbidden.
“We’ve been busy plugging in computers and putting them in charge of the things that the lives of millions of people depend on: self-driving cars is one of them,” O’Dowd said.
The “Full Self-Driving” beta version is still under development and is typically used by approved drivers who have qualified through a safety screening or who have otherwise been granted access. A $12,000 software upgrade makes vehicles capable of receiving it — though the price is up soon. Tesla does not claim that the software is autonomous, and the system requires the driver to be alert at all times and issue escalating warnings if a driver fails to pay attention before disabling the features.
Elon Musk, the Twitter deal and his quest to save ‘all life on Earth’
Tesla has pointed to the ability of technologies such as the Autopilot driver assistance system to “reduce the frequency and severity of traffic accidents and save thousands of lives each year.” Musk said Autopilot is “undeniably safer” than normal driving.
Musk and Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Regulators and police forces have urged users not to involve children in tests or to simulate safety demonstrations, which are conducted under strict, tightly controlled conditions.
That didn’t stop a Tesla superfan from doing a test with a kid in an effort to prove the “Full Self-Driving” beta is safe, after the parent agreed to get behind the wheel for the demo. The vehicle in the video slowly approached both a child-sized mannequin and a real child, slowing and stopping both times. YouTube removed the video after it was flagged on the site by CNBC, the outlet reported.
‘Full Self-Driving’ Clips Show Tesla Owners Fighting For Control, And Experts See Deep Flaws
Tesla’s termination letter leaned on an investigation by the news site Electrek, which claimed that Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” Beta “was never involved” during the Dawn Project’s test using mannequins. Aspects of the report have since been called into question, after the Dawn Project pointed to raw data and other information indicating that Full Self-Driving was activated during the demonstrations.
“The alleged tests abuse and misrepresent the capabilities of Tesla’s technology, ignoring widely recognized testing conducted by independent agencies, as well as the experiences shared by our customers,” Tesla Deputy General Counsel Dinna Eskin wrote in the letter. of August 11, the day after the Electrek article.
What self-driving cars can’t recognize may be a matter of life and death
The letter demands that the campaign immediately remove the videos and accused the group of “unsafe and improper use” of FSD Beta. “Your actions are actually putting consumers at risk,” Tesla claimed.
Ceasefire orders sometimes precede a lawsuit, but can also be used to convince an opponent to withdraw under threat of legal action.
O’Dow declined the order.
“This letter is so pathetic in terms of nagging: Mr. Free Speech Absolutist, just a crybaby hiding behind his lawyers,” O’Dowd said in an interview. (Musk has said he supports free speech and welcomes criticism.)
O’Dowd said he had no intention of removing the video commercial, but instead pledged more money.