Tesla Inc. has asked a safety advocacy group to take down videos of its electric vehicles (EVs) running over child dummies when its driver assistant system was engaged, calling them misleading and defamatory.
The Dawn Project group has launched a nationwide TV campaign warning of the alleged potential dangers of Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) software, adding to regulatory and public scrutiny of the technology. A video posted by the group shows a Tesla vehicle with FSD software running over child-sized mannequins and asks Congress to shut it down.
Tesla said that the Dawn Project and its founder have been undermining Tesla’s commercial interests and spreading defamatory information. The Dawn Project disclosed the letter on Thursday. Tesla threatened legal action, saying the tests in the videos misrepresent the capabilities of Tesla’s technology and are likely fraudulent.
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The US safety regulator has investigated Tesla’s Autopilot system following a series of crashes. The company said its FSD Beta, a test version of its new automated driving technology used by a limited number of consumers, does recognize pedestrians, including children. When appropriately utilized, the system reacts to prevent or mitigate a collision.
The Dawn Project was founded by Dan O’Dowd, a critic of Tesla’s FSD system and a software entrepreneur in California who had run for the US Senate. The Dawn Project said its tests are entirely legitimate and not deceptive and called Tesla’s marketing propaganda.