CTO running for Senate on one issue: Tesla’s FSD tech ban
- Dan O’Dowd is running for Senate on a platform that relies solely on keeping Tesla FSDs off the road.
- The CEO launched an ad campaign featuring videos of Tesla’s transformation into oncoming traffic.
- Elon Musk said FSD will be safer than human driving by the end of the year.
Dan O’Dowd, the chief technology officer of California, is running for the US Senate on one and only one issue – outlawing Tesla’s self-driving vehicles.
O’Dowd launched a multimillion-dollar ad campaign this week targeting Tesla’s fully autonomous driving program (FSD), which the billionaire described as “absolutely terrible.” A source told Politico, the ad, which is a set of videos depicting the program turning out to be a bug, will be shown across four major media markets in 36 states.
“[Autonomous driving software] It’s perhaps the most important part of the program,” O’Dowd told Insider. The lives of billions will depend on this program so that it is not spoiled on a daily basis. It has to be the best program ever written, but it isn’t.”
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment from Insider, but Tesla CEO Elon Musk said FSD will be safer than human driving by the end of the year.
O’Dowd is the CEO of Green Hills Software, a company that builds operating systems and programming tools for embedded systems. While the CEO told Insider that his company does not make self-driving software and has no financial interest in Tesla’s FSD, Green Hills has built technology for driving systems, including driver assistance software for the BMW iX.
“I want to take the case to the people”
According to O’Dowd, his bid for the Senate is an attempt to hold Musk to account and to scrap Tesla’s use of FSD altogether. This technology is controversial among critics who claim that its name is deceptive and that the feature is dangerous for occupants and pedestrians.
Insider previously reported on YouTube videos from Tesla drivers showing the program allowing cars to shift into oncoming traffic and struggling to accommodate pedestrians and build roads.
O’Dowd said he was inspired to take action after watching these videos. In January, he posted a full-page ad in The New York Times announcing the launch of The Dawn Project, a campaign to ban unsafe software from security systems.
In the ad, Musk accused FSD drivers of using FSD drivers as “crash test dummies.”
O’Dowd told people that people had an intrinsic faith in government to prevent unsafe products from making it to market, but were let down because “Tesla skis by regulations.”
“I want to take the issue to the people,” O’Dowd told Insider. “I want politicians to see that there is a problem here that gets votes.”
O’Dowd said The Dawn Project analyzed video footage of FSD in action and found that the program runs approximately every eight minutes.
The controversy behind FSD cars
Although the FSD claims to be fully self-driving, in fact it acts as an optional add-on that enables Teslas to automatically change lanes, enter and exit highways, and recognize stop signs, traffic lights and stops.
The product, which is in beta mode, can be purchased as an additional $12,000 or $199 monthly subscription and requires a licensed driver to monitor it at all times. The program has about 100,000 subscribers that Tesla can use to test the program in real time and allow the system’s artificial intelligence to learn from experienced drivers.
Since launching the FSD in 2014, the company has been able to avoid reporting data such as disengagements and accidents to the Motor Vehicles Department. This is because the system is classified as a Level 2 driver assistance system, as opposed to independent competitors such as Alphabet’s Waymo which are subject to different reporting standards because drivers are not required to monitor vehicles.
According to O’Dowd, there has been insufficient oversight to regulate FSD and prevent potential accidents, as shown in YouTube videos.
“The worst part is that the people who post these videos are fans,” O’Dowd told Insider. “There’s all these videos of the program making these horrible mistakes, doing horrible things, and these people just overlook it because they love Tesla.”
The Senate CEO’s request could overburden Alex Padilla’s bid for the junior senator designate from California. While it’s unclear whether O’Dowd is using his candidacy simply to draw attention to the issue — since his presence on the ballot allows a higher degree of First Amendment protection for his statements on Tesla — he told Politico that he would leak if FSD pulled the way for too long. from time.