Taking to Twitter after a self-published ad, Dan O’Dowd, Tesla’s chief critic, claimed that the company’s self-driving cars would “indiscriminately mow down youngsters.” In response, Tesla threatens to sue O’Dowd on defamation grounds if he does not take the ad down.
While fans focused on sports picks, they could access the ad, which aired on TV and is available on YouTube, O’Dowd claims that Tesla’s self-driving cars are not safe as crashing “youngsters” happens “over and over again.” The ad shows cars running over mannequins, as O’Dowd narrates.
He says that Tesla’s FSD “is the worst commercial software” he’s ever seen and that you should “tell Congress” to bar it.
O’Dowd’s spokesperson told CNBC how the Green Hills Software CEO spent over a million dollars to stream the ad on hundreds of stations. As such, at least six in ten households had access to it.
Tesla has responded to the ad, calling it false and misleading. The company says that the ad is full of lies and misinformation and intends to scare people for no reason.
The carmaker threatened to sue O’Dowd if he did not take the ad down. In an August 11th cease-and-desist letter, Mr. O’Dowd was informed that if he failed to remove the video and issue a full retraction and apology, the company would take legal action against him.
The letter further directed that O’Dowd and his advocacy group, the Dawn Project, relinquish all the ad’s material to Tesla within a day. It demanded that O’Dowd disclose any regulatory bodies endorsing the criteria and findings of the test. Further, he was to reveal the campaign’s funding.
O’Dowd replied to Tesla’s threats, saying that he would not be intimidated and that he would not take the ad down. He termed Elon Musk a “crybaby” that’s taking refuge behind the “lawyers’ skirts.”
In January this year, the critic published an ad in New York Times to deter the “ill-advised FSD robot car experiment.”
The fight between Tesla and O’Dowd is just the latest in a long-running feud. O’Dowd has been a vocal critic of Tesla for a while and has often accused the company of putting profits over safety.
Fans Have Their Say
Many Tesla fans are rallying behind the carmaker, questioning the authenticity of O’Dowd’s tests, alongside several blogs. Some believe that the vehicles under experimentation may not have FSD activated, a claim Mr. O’Dowd bashed.
One notes that they don’t see any real safety issues highlighted in the ad while condemning the use of public roads for the test. Garry Black, Future Fund LLC’s managing partner, called O’Dowd a “bully,” praising Tesla’s move to hit back.
In a Twitter post dated August 14th, O’Dowd said that the driver swore an affidavit that he did not touch the wheel while the tech was active. The critic called anyone arguing otherwise “a moron” as they had triple-checked the tech’s engagement.
Mr O’Dowd also took shots at the Whole Mars Blog in the latest disagreement. According to him, Omar “only cares about Tesla’s stock price” while disregarding the well-being of youngsters.
He notes that while Musk champions the need for free speech, it becomes an issue when someone attacks him, a statement his followers reiterate. The Green Hills Software CEO went to extra lengths, releasing a meme of Musk denying a person speech right by tying them up.
Whole Mars today laughed at how savagely O’Dowd was after Tesla’s FSD, to which Elon Musk responded with bat and poop emojis followed by a simple “crazy.”
Amidst the feud, Elon Musk continues spreading the word of Tesla’s new automation tech, saying users can upgrade to it in a few seconds.
FSD is to be launched on thousands of automobiles, a move O’Dowd ordained as “ the callous deployment of 100,000 two-ton AI killing machines.” Tesla, for its part, has always denied these claims and has defended its safety record.
The feud between Tesla and O’Dowd will likely continue, as both sides appear unwilling to back down. O’Dowd has made it clear that he is not afraid of Tesla and is willing to continue to fight them. On the other hand, Tesla will not take O’Dowd’s criticisms lying down.
Time will tell whether the Tesla-O’Dowd fight festers or quietens. However, this may be here for a while, judging from the past months’ back and forth.