Tesla’s Autopilot Faults Still Threaten Children, Safety Advocate Warns

A US road safety advocate organization claims Tesla’s latest Autopilot ‘Full Self-Driving’ update has failed to cure any of the system’s major issues.

The Dawn Project, a long-time critic of the automaker’s automated driving claims, says it has tested the latest update and found it can’t protect the vulnerable road users, such as children, as it claimed to do. Released on June 19, the Project immediately tested this update in collaboration with former Tesla ADAS test operator, John Bernal, and his YouTube channel, AI Addict.

During the tests attended by journalists and members of the Santa Barbara community, as well as being live streamed to tens of thousands of viewers on YouTube, Tesla’s Full Self-Driving software repeatedly failed to stop for the stopped school bus with its flashing stop sign extended and drove past ‘Do Not Enter’ and ‘Road Closed’ signs, with a failure rate of 100%. These tests also suggest that the new version of Tesla Full Self-Driving will collide with a child crossing the road. Eight months after first having been notified of these critical safety defects, the Dawn Project says Tesla has still not fixed them.

Bernal commented: “The Dawn Project’s safety tests demonstrate the major oversights in Tesla’s development of Full Self-Driving. When I worked for Tesla as a data labeler in the Full Self-Driving team, not once did we ever train the software to recognize or obey a stopped school bus. Given the significant threat to child pedestrians, Tesla should urgently address this safety defect.”

Project founder, Dan O’Dowd, added: “We ran a full-page ad in the New York Times in November 2022. When Tesla did nothing to fix these issues, we ran a Super Bowl commercial in February 2023. Tesla still did nothing.  In March 2023, a self-driving Tesla ran down a child as they got off a school bus, just as I had warned would happen. We reiterate our open invitation to Tesla, Elon Musk, NHTSA, politicians and the media, to attend and witness our safety tests and see for themselves whether any of the safety defects we reported have been fixed. Tesla must fix these safety defects immediately, or stop selling this product until all the known safety defects have been fixed.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Threads


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