A group called The Dawn Project launched a Super Bowl ad campaign warning against Tesla’s self-driving technology, claiming that the vehicles are unsafe and calling for a boycott of the company. The ads featured an Autopilot-driven Tesla mowing down child-sized dummies in a parking lot, emphasizing the dangers of the self-driving software. The Dawn Project criticized Elon Musk for selling defective self-driving software and accused him of reckless behavior and depraved human experiments, and called for consumers to cut off funding for his self-driving experiments by boycotting Tesla.
The ads showed footage of an Autopilot-driven Tesla ignoring a flashing stop sign of a school bus and striking multiple child-sized dummies, raising concerns about the safety of Tesla’s self-driving technology. In December, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concluded that incorrect use of the self-driving software led to accidents, prompting a recall of about two million Tesla vehicles for mandated Autopilot updates. Despite being a marquee feature for Tesla, Autopilot is not a full self-driving system and has come under increased scrutiny from regulators.
Critics claim that the self-driving software can be easily fooled so that drivers do not have to be as attentive as intended or not even sitting in the driver’s seat when the vehicle is in motion, leading to ongoing safety investigations by regulators and the California attorney general. The controversy surrounding Tesla’s Autopilot technology highlights growing concerns about the safety and regulatory oversight of self-driving systems in the automotive industry.