NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MAY 02: Elon Musk attends the 2022 Met Gala celebrating “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 02, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Theo Wargo/WireImage)
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Tesla has threatened to sue Dan O’ Dowd, the CEO of Green Hills Software and The Dawn Project, after he created and paid for a national TV ad campaign in which a Tesla vehicle showed a child-sized mannequin on a locked door. test track mows. The ad says that the vehicle had enabled Tesla’s advanced driver assistance system, branded “Full Self-Driving.”
In an arrest letter, Tesla said this provocative ad amounted to “misinformation about Tesla,” that the “alleged tests” in the ad “misuse and misrepresent the capabilities of Tesla’s technology,” and that O’Dowds” tests are seriously deceptive and likely to be fraudulent.”
The Dawn Project campaign went live on August 9, according to a tweet from O’Dowd.
O’Dowd narrates the ad himself, stating, “One hundred thousand Tesla drivers are already using Full Self-Driving on public roads. I’m Dan O’Dowd. I’m a safety engineer. And Tesla Full Self-Driving is the worst commercial software out there. I’ve ever seen — tell Congress to stop it.”
A spokesperson for O’Dowd told CNBC that he issued “seven figures” and that the commercial was “aired on hundreds of TV stations that reached more than 60% of American households.” O’Dowd told CNBC that The Dawn Project is a privately held technical safety and security education company.
In its termination statement, Tesla said: “It has come to our notice that you personally and The Dawn Project have discredited Tesla’s commercial interests and have disseminated defamatory information to the public about the capabilities of Tesla’s Full Self Driving (FSD) (beta) technology. .”
Tesla then demanded that The Dawn Project remove the “Test Track” videos, issue a public retraction, disclose funding for the tests and commercials created by the Dawn Project, and say whether regulatory authorities are reviewing the methodology or results of The Dawn Project for its tests endorsed .
The Washington Post first reported on the strike letter, which was also obtained by CNBC.
The Dawn Project’s advertisements were widely criticized. Tesla critics said: the videos failed to identify serious safety issues with Tesla’s driver assistance systems, while Tesla fans said the test driver appeared to be abusing the system to cause it to collide with the childish mannequin.
After the TV ad went out, some Tesla fans and shareholders came up with their own FSD Beta safety tests to prove the cars would prevent them from hitting children. They enlisted their own children to participate in these demonstrations and posted videos to YouTube, which later determined that the videos violated their “harmful content” policy and removed them.
On Wednesday, Musk said in a tweet“Early beta has a lot of known issues. The reason we’re releasing it for a limited number of cars is to discover unknown issues.”
On Thursday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that O’Dowd is “batsh– crazy” and uses emoji to convey the insult.
O’Dowd said in a conversation with CNBC on Thursday: “I don’t care what he calls me. When is he going to recognize and fix the bugs in their system? These problems have been demonstrated. What he needs to do now is to disable FSD .”
Tesla is tiering its driver assistance systems in the US.
Autopilot is the standard offering that comes with all new Tesla vehicles. Tesla sells a premium option called Full Self-Driving (or FSD) for $12,000 upfront or $199 per month. The price for FSD will rise to $15,000 in September.
The automaker gives some drivers access to a program called Full Self-Driving Beta if they score high on the company’s auto test. None of these systems make Tesla cars autonomous, or safe to use without a driver behind the wheel, ready to brake and alert to the road at all times. Tesla owner’s manuals warn drivers that the systems won’t make their cars self-driving.
The California DMV has alleged that Tesla is engaged in false advertising regarding its driver assistance systems.
The federal vehicle safety regulatory agency, NHTSA, has multiple studies underway to evaluate the safety of Tesla’s driver assistance systems, from Autopilot to FSD and FSD Beta.