‘Boycott Tesla’ Super Bowl ads target self-driving technology

A pair of Super Bowl ads went after Tesla’s self-driving technology on Sunday, asking viewers to boycott the company and claiming that its vehicles are unsafe.

The Dawn Project’s ads follow a 2023 Super Bowl ad campaign, which featured an Autopilot-driven Tesla mowing down child-sized dummies in a parking lot. 

“Here’s what Elon Musk doesn’t want you to know: He sells defective self-driving software by telling consumers it is many times safer than a human driver, when in fact it drives like a drunk teenager,” the group’s website reads.

“Anyone who buys a Tesla from Elon Musk is an enabler for his reckless behavior, including his self-driving experiments that have resulted in over 1,000 crashes and at least 33 tragic deaths,” it continues. “Boycott Tesla to cut off the funding for Elon Musk’s depraved human experiments.”

Sunday’s ads showed video of an Autopilot-driven Tesla ignoring the flashing stop sign of a school bus and striking multiple child-sized dummies.

Tesla’s Autopilot technology has come under increasing scrutiny in the last year from state and federal regulators. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) concluded in December that incorrect use of the software led to wrecks.

The company recalled about two million vehicles after the NHTSA report, nearly all of the vehicles it has ever produced, for mandated Autopilot updates. Tesla did not agree with the NHTSA’s findings, but accepted the vehicle recall and software update.

Autopilot is a marquee feature for Tesla, with the software able to move between lanes, accelerate and brake automatically. Despite its name, it is not a full self-driving system.

The software has been criticized over claims that it can be easily fooled so that a driver does not have to be as attentive as intended or not even sitting in the driver’s seat when moving.

The recall is the latest scrutiny into Tesla, which has been the subject of multiple recalls and safety investigations by the NHTSA in recent years, including a previous recall of its self-driving software.

The California attorney general began its own investigation into the safety of Autopilot software and Tesla vehicles in July.

The Hill has reached out to Tesla for comment.

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