Tesla threatens to sue critics for ad showing cars hitting mannequins

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – May 2: Elon Musk attends the 2022 Met Gala “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 2, 2022 in New York City. (Image: According to Wargo/WireImage)

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Tesla threatened to sue Dan O’ Dowd, CEO of Green Hills Software and The Dawn Project, after he created and paid for a national TV ad campaign showing a Tesla car cutting down a car. child-sized dummy on a closed test track. The ad said that the car used Tesla’s advanced driver assistance system, branded “Full Self-Driving”.

In a cease and desist letter, Tesla said the provocative ad was “false information about Tesla”, that “purposeful tests” in the ad “misuse and misrepresent the capabilities of Tesla technology” and that O’Dowd’s test “is seriously deceptive and potentially fraudulent.”

According to a tweet from O’Dowd, the Dawn Project campaign was released on August 9.

O’Dowd himself narrated the ad and said in it: “Hundreds of thousands of Tesla drivers have used Full Self-Driving on public roads. I’m Dan O’Dowd. I’m a safety engineer. And Tesla Completely Self-Driving – Driving is the worst commercial software I’ve ever seen – ask Congress to shut it down.”

A spokesperson for O’Dowd told CNBC he spent “seven figures” and that the ads “aired on hundreds of TV stations reaching more than 60% of households in the US.” O’Dowd told CNBC The Dawn Project is a privately run tech safety and security education business.

In the shutdown and cancellation notice, Tesla said, “We are aware that you and Project Dawn have personally disparaged Tesla’s commercial interests and disseminated defamatory information to the public regarding the Tesla’s fully self-driving (FSD) (Beta) technology.”

Tesla then asked the Dawn Project to remove the “Test Road” videos, withdraw it from the public, disclose funding for the tests and advertising created by Project Dawn, and indicate whether there was a regulatory agency. any theory that validates the Dawn Project’s methodology or results for its tests.

washington articles First reported the cease and desist letter, also obtained by CNBC.

The Dawn Project’s advertisement was widely criticized. Tesla Critics say the videos did not identify serious safety problems with Tesla’s driver assistance system, while Tesla fans say The test driver appeared to have misused the system to ensure it would collide with the child-sized dummy.

After the TV commercial debuted, some Tesla fans and shareholders devised their own FSD Beta safety tests to prove the cars would avoid hitting children. They invited their children to join these protests and posted videos on YouTube, then determine the videos went against the “harmful content” policy and were removed.

On Wednesday, Musk said in a tweet“The initial beta has many known issues. The reason we’re releasing this release to a limited number of vehicles is to explore unknown issues.”

On Thursday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted that O’Dowd was “crazy – crazy,” using emojis to express offense.

O’Dowd said on a call with CNBC on Thursday, “I don’t care what he calls me. When will he confirm and fix the bugs in their system? These issues have been fixed. demonstrate. What he should do now is turn off the FSD.”

Tesla markets its driver assistance system in the US on a tiered basis.

Autopilot is a standard service shipped on 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 increase to $15,000 in September.

The automaker allows some drivers to access a program called Full Self-Driving Beta if they score well on the company’s in-vehicle test. None of these systems make Tesla vehicles autonomous or safe to use without the driver getting behind the wheel, always ready to brake and paying attention to the road surface. Tesla owners’ manuals warn drivers that the system doesn’t help their cars drive themselves.

DMV California accused that Tesla engaged in false advertising in which their driver assistance systems were concerned.

The Federal Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, is conducting multiple investigations to assess the safety of Tesla’s driver assistance systems from Autopilot to FSD and FSD Beta.

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