Tesla to Advocacy Group: Take Down Videos, Now

Company threatens legal action after the Dawn Project says Full Self-Driving is dangerous
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 25, 2022 4:06 PM CDT
Tesla to Advocacy Group: Take Down Videos, Now
The Tesla logo on a Model X.   (AP Photo/David Zalubowski, File)

Tesla is threatening legal action against an advocacy group and demanding it immediately take down videos that allege the company's Full Self-Driving mode is a particular threat to child pedestrians. The Washington Post reports that the company sent a cease-and-desist letter to the Dawn Project, which is run by longtime Tesla critic Dan O'Dowd, a software billionaire and political hopeful in California. The letter came after the Dawn Project released a video showing a Tesla striking a child mannequin in a safety test it conducted. See the clip here. In the video, O'Dowd urges Congress to ban FSD.

“We demand that you immediately cease and desist further dissemination of all defamatory information, issue a formal public retraction within 24 hours and provide Tesla with the below demanded documentation," the company wrote in response to O'Dowd, per the Verge. Tesla supporters also have pushed back, with some posting videos of their own tests to show that FSD (which requires a driver to be at the controls) is safe. However, YouTube ended up pulling at least two of those amateur videos because they featured actual children in the tests, not mannequins, reports CNBC.

As the Drive notes, there's a whole other aspect to the controversy—a fierce debate on whether the Dawn Project conducted a legit test. A post at Electrek, for example, called the group's video a "smear campaign" and maintained that FSD was never properly activated. CEO Elon Musk himself retweeted that story and called the video a "scam." However, raw video that emerged later suggests that FSD was, in fact, engaged, per the Drive. "So will a self-driving Tesla run over a child?" asks Rob Stumpf of the Drive. "Amid the noise, the answer seems to be a resounding 'maybe,' which is just as bad as 'yes' in this case." (Read more Tesla stories.)

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