Tesla has come under fire again for its controversially named Full Self-Driving driver-assist feature, this time in an ad that aired on Sunday in Washington, D.C., as well as in a number of state capitals during Super Bowl LVII.
The spot shows a number of situations where a Tesla allegedly operating in FSD mode fails, with examples including cars crossing into oncoming lanes and running over mannequins simulating children crossing the road.
The ad was produced by The Dawn Project, an organization which aims to ensure the safety of software in critical situations. The ad was also posted on Saturday by tech entrepreneur Dan O’Dowd on his Twitter account, together with a request for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to ban FSD from public roads. The agency so far has only opened a probe following a series of crashes involving Teslas and emergency vehicles.
O’Dowd, who founded The Dawn Project, is a software engineer that develops software he claims never fails and can’t be hacked. Some of the software he has developed has been used by the military, as well as NASA. He also founded and runs a company called Green Hills Software, which is working with companies in the automotive industry to ensure the safe deployment of self-driving technology.
However, despite what the name alludes to, FSD doesn’t enable a car to drive on its own. The feature, which is an upgrade of the more basic Autopilot driver-assist feature, can handle certain situations but requires a driver to monitor things at all times and to always be ready to correct mistakes.
The ad calling for the banning of FSD comes just weeks after the U.S. Justice Department requested documents from Tesla related to Autopilot and FSD. The head of the National Transportation Safety Board also in 2021 called the FSD name “misleading and irresponsible,” and California has deemed it illegal.
Tesla has promised that FSD will eventually be able to operate a vehicle without anyone having to be onboard, but while the company continues to update the capabilities of FSD, some disgruntled Tesla customers filed a class action lawsuit against the automaker last year over the failure to deliver a fully functioning system. Tesla’s lawyers later reportedly argued that failure to deliver self-driving cars isn’t fraud, and called for the suit to be dismissed.