The self-driving Tesla that knocks over children? The study would be flawed

Autonomous driving, Full Self-Driving (FSD), Teslas that do not detect children? Too big for some specialists who analyzed The Dawn Project study. They found big inconsistencies in the published results.

Tesla Model

Earlier in the week, we mentioned a study concerning the Tesla’s fully autonomous driving capability. The Dawn Project, which is dedicated to banning dangerous software, has uploaded various documents and videos about a test that shows Full Self-Driving (FSD) can be dangerous. Especially for the most vulnerable people in road traffic, namely children.

Our safety test of Tesla’s Full Self-Driving technology avoiding a stationary dummy of a small child conclusively demonstrated that Tesla’s Full Self-Driving software does not avoid the child or even slow down when a child-sized mannequin stands on the road.

Dan O’Dowd, the initiator of the study, called the survey results (accessible on this PDF) “deeply disturbingand said Tesla repeatedly failed this simple test.

Serious doubts about the objectivity of the study

Electrek , American media, studied the videos and documents, and according to them, the initiators of the study never activated Tesla’s beta FSD in the test. According to the media specializing in new technologies, the Tesla FSD Beta technology is still based on map data.

Yet this test was conducted on a closed course at Willow Springs International Raceway in Rosamond, California. In addition, they proved, based on captures, that the FSD was not activated.

I downloaded their raw footage. You might want to verify again. 1/3

—Cameron (@twn675) August 10, 2022

The Dawn Project has since released additional images that do not appear in the original study. On these we can see that they were able to activate FSD, however, the images are inconsistent with the results published on the test and in the announcement.

A campaign funded by an American politician

Another major problem is that the study was broadcast in a TV campaign financed by an American politician. This video clip denigrates Tesla technology for a minute. It turns out to be a political ad from US Senate candidate Dan O’Dowd. Its goal is to influence politicians to lobby NHTSA to ban Tesla’s Beta FSD in the United States.

Note that Electrekisn’t the only player trying to defend Tesla. Fans of the brand have tried similar experiments, with a cardboard silhouette of a child. As pointed outNumeramathey also filmed scenes of everyday life in the traffic of the streets of San Francisco to show that the Tesla FSD Beta did indeed identify children.

NHTSA is investigating

Meanwhile, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched 38 special investigations into crashes involving Tesla vehicles where it believes advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) were activated. So far, these investigations have revealed little against Tesla. NHTSA most often finds that affected drivers were simply not paying attention, which is required with Tesla’s system.

In June 2022, NHTSA nevertheless took a further step towards a potential ban on FSD. The American regulatory agency NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) has opened what it calls a “technical analysis” in an attempt to get to the bottom of the problems.

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