If you haven't been following, Dan O'Dowd – who runs a software company that rivals Tesla – has launched an expensive ad campaign aiming to prove that Tesla's EVs will kill children. The campaign has encouraged Tesla owners to create videos showing how Tesla's Autopilot and Full Self-Driving Beta technology react to objects and people in the real world.
After billionaire and US Senate candidate O'Dowd launched his campaign and got a video on the air that suggests Tesla's FSD Beta technology is a danger, several Tesla FSD Beta testers pushed back. In fact, one tester teamed up with some friends to prove that the software doesn't react as O'Dowd's video suggests. However, since the video used real children for the tests, someone requested that YouTube take it down, and it did.
Interestingly, other similar videos have remained on the platform, and it appears no one has been hit or run over by the technology in any of the videos. Moreover, there are reportedly at least 100,000 people testing FSD Beta on public roads, and we aren't aware of any notable accidents, and certainly not any injuries or deaths.
If an accident were to occur and someone was injured or killed, the driver would likely be held responsible, not Tesla or the car. This has been the case with similar situations in the past, since the driver is ultimately responsible for the vehicle, regardless of its driver-assist systems, which are intended to "assist." However, as such technology improves and requires less driver input, there's no way to know how a judge or jury would handle each individual incident in the future.
As the story goes, popular FSD Beta tester Dirty Tesla decided to join the bandwagon of beta testers in an attempt to prove that O'Dowd's footage was likely manipulated. There are many videos, articles, and social media posts suggesting that at least some of O'Dowd's tests were performed with the FSD feature turned off. In addition, some of the billionaire's videos have areas of the screen blurred out, which are areas that provide messages to the driver when the car wants verification of acceleration or other assistance.
At any rate, Dirty Tesla uses an inflatable person and an inflatable dog to mirror O'Dowd's test. Sometimes a car's safety features may hit an inanimate object but not a real pedestrian. However, he also puts himself in front of the Model Y (potentially in harm's way) to see how it will react.
We don't advise testing a car's safety features by putting yourself, your children, or your worst enemy in front of a moving car. That said, clearly, Dirty Tesla and his wife have faith in the Model Y's technology after being behind the wheel and testing it daily for many months now.
Dirty Tesla provided a breakdown of the topics in the video, along with related timestamps:
- 0:00 - Why am I sacrificing myself for Musk?
- 1:57 - Start of tests - interior camera
- 7:34 - Previous day's testing with exterior camera
We'd rather not spill all the beans before you get a chance to watch the video, but we will say that Dirty Tesla is still alive and kicking. In addition, no blow-up dolls were injured in the making of the video.
We will also say that it's very interesting to watch what the car "sees" and how it reacts to the objects and to Dirty Tesla. When it notices the blow-up dog, it waits for it to leave the road before proceeding.
The Model Y also won't move forward if there's an object ahead, and once the road is clear, it provides a message to the driver to tap the go pedal before it will proceed. You can see the message on the Tesla's screen, and it's the message that many owners have accused O'Dowd of blurring out.
Dirty Tesla also moves objects out in front of the moving Tesla, which causes the car to either try to go around the object or employ automatic emergency braking. When the Model Y won't hit the object, he continues to aggressively move it back in front of the car, and the car goes to great lengths to continue to avoid it.