Elon Musk Reacts to Tesla Competitor’s Sunday NYT Ad Smearing Full Self-Driving

The Tesla CEO called the FSD trash talker's software company "a pile of trash." 

The Dawn Project’s full-page advertisement in Sunday’s New York Times. @andyjayhawk/Twitter

Tesla (TSLA)’s Full Self-Driving system is (again) stirring up a storm of controversy on the internet. The EV maker on Monday released the newest (version 10.9) updates of its FSD Beta to a select group of Tesla owners. The day before, a software safety advocacy organization called “The Dawn Project” placed a full-page advertisement in Sunday’s New York Times, calling Tesla FSD “the worst software ever sold by a Fortune 500 company” and urging the public to not be “crash test dummies for thousands of Tesla cars” with FSD.

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The ad was paid for by The Dawn Project’s founder Dan O'Dowd, who is also the CEO of Green Hills Software, a company that provides operating systems to automakers, as well as the aerospace industry.

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After reviewing “many hours” of YouTube videos of drivers testing FSD, O’Dowd arrived at the conclusions that the system commits a “critical driving error,” as defined by the California DMV Driving Performance Evaluation, every eight minutes and that, if the system was used in every passenger vehicle in the U.S., “millions would die every day.”

To prove his point, O’Dowd is offering a $10,000 reward “to the first person who can name another commercial product from a Fortune 500 company that has a critical malfunction every 8 minutes.”

Under O’Dowd’s share of his NYT ad on Twitter, a Tesla investor named Dave Lee suggested in a comment that Green Hills had taken money from Tesla competitors, to which Elon Musk responded, “Green Hills software is a pile of trash.”

According to Green Hills website, the company most recently worked with BMW on its iX electric sports utility vehicle.

O’Dowd argued that nobody knows a product’s flaws better than its competitors. “They tear them apart, they figure out what they do right, they figure out what they do wrong,” he told Fox Business Monday. “They know better, and they’ll tell you. The salesman is never going to tell you those things.”

Tesla has been testing Full Self-Driving Beta for over a year with a small group of Tesla owners who have high “safety scores.” A less advanced driver assistance system called Autopilot is available on all Tesla vehicles.

O’Dowd said the original version of Autopilot was built using Green Hills Software but he later backed away from the project because he didn’t believe it was going to work. Tesla hasn’t confirmed this information.

The latest FSD Beta allows a Tesla vehicle to drive itself to a destination entered in its navigation system. But the driver is required to stay alert and be ready to take control at any time.

FSD is the most expensive driver assistance system in the EV market right now. And it’s getting even pricier with each new iteration. Last week, Tesla announced that the price was scheduled to jump from $10,000 to $12,000 on January 17 with the 10.9 release and that additional increases can be expected as the technology improves.

Musk has recently claimed that there hasn’t been any accident or injury caused by FSD since its launch. But the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is in the process of investigating whether FSD was involved in a Model Y crash that occurred in Brea, California, on November 3.

Elon Musk Reacts to Tesla Competitor’s Sunday NYT Ad Smearing Full Self-Driving