A Tesla full self-driving beta smear campaign is reaching a new level because it’s 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 clear he was making it a single-issue campaign, and that the issue was Tesla’s full self-driving program.
Under the protection of political ads, he invested several million dollars in an advertising campaign attacking Tesla’s full self-driving beta program with the goal of banning it 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 on the FSD beta showing a Tesla Model 3 hitting a child’s dummy.
The next day, Electrek posted a report that found major holes in the ad, and a report released at the same time by the Dawn Project allegedly contained the testing methodology behind the ad.
For example, in some of the footage used to make the video, FSD Beta was apparently not included.
Tesla ended the campaign by sending a cease-and-desist letter to Project Dawn.
As we’ve reported often in the past, the Tesla FSD beta is a level driver assist system that requires the driver’s attention at all times. The automaker is using the program to improve its neural nets to finally deliver on its self-driving promises.
The campaign is producing unscientific tests where it puts FSD betas under tough conditions and shows only the worst possible performance in order to create these ads.
Now O’Dowd announces that he has produced a new anti-Tesla FSD beta video that he is going to feature as a new Super Bowl ad this Sunday:
Check out The Dawn Project #Super Bowl Ad exposes critical security flaw @tesla Full Self-Driving. 6 months ago we reported that FSD will kill a child. Tesla hasn’t even decided that! to focus their attention, @NHTSAgov FSD must be shut down until Tesla fixes all safety flaws. pic.twitter.com/AxJbN5oOSr
— Dan O’Dowd (@RealDanODowd) February 11, 2023
Again, the ad shows a poor Tesla FSD beta performance and a collection of Tesla vehicles crashing into a dummy. In addition, it continues to refer to Tesla’s full self-driving beta program as “Tesla Full Self-Driving” — emphasizing that Tesla believes self-driving should happen.
It’s also worth noting that O’Dowd’s Green Hills Software claims to produce software for the automotive industry and specifically for driver assistance features, making it a direct competitor to Tesla’s Autopilot and FSD efforts.
Now if you’ve been following my writing on Tesla’s FSD beta, you know I’m not the biggest fan, but I think this effort is stupid.
You can make videos like this about any driver assist system or self-driving program if you use it enough miles or set up an unscientific test for them.
You can see major failures online from Cruise and Waymo, but of course, since you can’t own the vehicle and use it all the time, it’s hard to make a fail compilation video like this one.
I agree it’s important to criticize the FSD beta and point out its weakness, but O’Dowd isn’t just doing that, he’s creating a smear campaign and trying to get NHTSA to shut down the program. Again, it is a direct competitor to that program.
They claim it is to save lives, but it seems fraudulent. If you’re using the FSD beta, it’s no more dangerous than any other driver assistance features, so you also need to be careful.
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