A Tesla Full Self-Driving Beta smear campaign is reaching a whole new level as it is going to have a Super Bowl ad, according to the people behind the campaign.
Last year, we reported on Dan O’Dowd, a self-described billionaire and founder of Green Hills Software, a privately-owned company that makes operating systems and programming tools.
O’Dowd had launched a Senate campaign in his home state of California, but the tech executive made it quite clear that he is making it a single-issue campaign, and that issue is Tesla’s Full Self-Driving program.
Under the protection of political ads, he invested several million dollars in an ad campaign to attack Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Beta program with the goal of having it banned from public roads in the US.
Even though O’Dowd has lost his senate effort, the campaign continues under the name “The Dawn Project” and continues to attack Tesla.
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.
Tesla ended up sending a cease and desist letter to the Dawn Project over the campaign.
As we have often reported in the past, Tesla FSD Beta is a level driver assist system that requires driver attention at all time. 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.
Now O’Dowd announced that they produced a new anti-Tesla FSD Beta video that they are going to show as a new Super Bowl ad this Sunday:
Again, the ad shows just a collection of bad Tesla FSD Beta performances and Tesla vehicles crashing into dummies. Also, it keeps referring to Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Beta program as “Tesla Full Self-Driving” – insinuating that this is what Tesla believes self-driving should be.
It’s also worth noting that O’Dowd’s Green Hills Software claims to produce software for the automotive industry and specifically for driver assist features, which makes it a direct competitor to Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD efforts.
Now if you have been following my writing on Tesla’s FSD Beta, you know that I’m not the biggest fan, but I think this effort is stupid.
You could produce videos like that about any driver assist system or self-driving programs if you used it over enough miles or set up unscientific tests for them.
You can see big fails from Cruise and Waymo online, but of course, since you can’t own the vehicle and use it all the time, it’s harder to produce a fail compilation video like this.
I do agree that it’s important to criticize FSd Beta and points out its weakness, but O’Dowd is not just doing that, he is crating a smear campaign and trying to have NHTSA shut down the program. Again, he is a direct competitor to that program.
He claims that it is to save lives, but that feels disingenuous. If you are using FSD Beta as intended, it is not more dangerous than any other driver assist features, which you also need to be careful with.