The Dawn Project, which bills itself as a safety advocacy group attacked Tesla’s so-called “Full Self-Driving” software during regional ads that aired during the Super Bowl., yesterday. The group called for regulatory agencies to take action.
The Dawn Project is backed by Dan O’Dowd, CEO of Greenhill Software, a company that itself develops automated driving software systems. That conflict of interest didn’t appear to be disclosed in the ads.
But O’Dowd has been on Tesla’s case for awhile and the ad seen yesterday is part of a campaign that the group launched in 2022. Tesla responded with a lawyer letter demanding that O’Dowd and Dawn stop “disparaging” the electric carmaker’s FSD product. Tesla threatened to sue if the group didn’t comply, but so far, no word that Tesla has taken legal action.
During the game the ad aired in Washington D.C. and state capitals in New York, Texas, Florida, California and Georgia.
The ad purports to show how the FSD software, an option on Tesla vehicles is flawed in many ways. It depicted Teslas ignoring the flashing red lights of a stopped school bus, hitting a baby stroller in the street and a (crash dummy) child crossing the street and other examples of life-threatening driving that the FSD software enables when engaged.
O’Dowd’s conflict of interest aside, others have pointed out flaws in the Tesla self-driving package as well. A class-action lawsuit was filed last year in California, alleging Tesla has misled the public about its capabilities.
The ad, which can be viewed here, publicizes the findings of safety tests conducted by The Dawn Project, according to the group. Tesla previously challenged the validity of the tests.
The ad ends with the question, “Why does NHTSA allow Tesla full-self driving?” a reference to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
More ads will follow demanding that regulators act, the group said in a statement.
Tesla has previously said the Dawn Project campaign is without merit, calling it “misinformation.”