If you got up to get some more food or drink during a break in the Super Bowl, you might have missed an ad attacking Tesla’s self-driving capabilities. Dan O’Down, a tech billionaire, spent over half a million dollars to run a shocking video of a Tesla running over a child.
Fortune reports, “Sandwiched between the often irreverent and always ultra-expensive Super Bowl ads this year was a commercial from his own “Dawn Project,” calling for the immediate ban of Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) feature.
The 30-second ad, which his organization confirmed to CNN cost $600,000 to run, is the latest attack against Elon Musk in a year-long campaign by the Green Hills Software CEO to galvanize public opposition to FSD.
‘I am trying to remove the worst, most incompetently designed, developed and tested automotive product on the market,’ he said in a tweet on Sunday, calling for the U.S. government to mandate the deactivation of Tesla’s FSD until all supposed defects are fixed.
O’Dowd burst onto the scene in January of last year, quickly becoming the most vocal critic of FSD, eclipsing figures like Snow Bull Capital CEO Taylor Ogan, an investor in Tesla rival BYD.”
The advertisement was met with scorn from Tesla fans, especially those who have set out to prove his accusations wrong.
While O’Dowd pretends to be running attacks on Tesla out of benevolence, it should be noted that he is the owner of a software company that competes directly against Musk. He is the CEO of Green Hills Software, which is currently developing its own self-driving software.
Electrek noted that O’Dowd’s smear campaign has been debunked. “Last summer, the campaign launched a new ad called “The Dangers of Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Software,” in which they showed footage of an in-house test showing a Tesla Model 3 on FSD Beta hitting a child dummy.
The next day, Electrek posted a report that poked major holes in the ad, and the report that the Dawn Project released at the same time supposedly included the methodology of the tests behind the ad.
For example, in some of the footage used to produce the video, FSD Beta was clearly not engaged.
As we have often reported in the past, Tesla FSD Beta is a level driver assist system that requires driver attention at all times. The automaker is using the program to improve its neural nets in order to eventually deliver on its self-driving promises.
The campaign is producing unscientific tests where it puts FSD Beta in difficult situations and only show the worst performances to produce these ads.”
Tesla has sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Dawn Project. The Washington Post reported that in the letter “Tesla objects to a video commercial by anti-“Full Self-Driving” group the Dawn Project that appears to show the electric vehicles running over mannequins at speeds over 20 mph while allegedly using the technology. The commercial urges banning the Tesla Full Self-Driving Beta software, which enables cars on city and residential streets to automatically lane-keep, change lanes and steer.
The commercial led to a surge of news articles and criticism of Tesla’s software, which is being tested in an early-release version by more than 100,000 users on public streets in countries including the United States and Canada. It also triggered blowback from Tesla supporters who said the test could have been manipulated. Some of them sought to re-create the demonstrations — sometimes involving real children — in an effort to show that Tesla’s software does actually work.
Tesla has pointed to the ability of technologies like its Autopilot driver-assistance system to “reduce the frequency and severity of traffic crashes and save thousands of lives each year.” Musk has said Autopilot is “unequivocally safer” than normal driving.”
As the electric car company continues to work on developing its self-driving technology, it might also want to work on preventing its cars from spontaneously catching on fire. Last month firefighters needed to use 6,000 gallons of water to extinguish a Tesla Model S that burst into flames on a busy highway outside of Sacramento.
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