An organization paid big bucks to highlight Tesla’s Full Self Driving (FSD) technology during the Super Bowl. If you don’t live in one of the markets in which it ran, you may have missed it. The advert’s creators didn't run it everywhere in America because Tesla’s influence and America’s power are mostly located in metropolitan areas. It did run in Autin Texas, and in Washington D.C., for obvious reasons. Why waste money in states that don't have a big Tesla footprint?
Many media outlets, particularly those that pander to Tesla or are owned and staffed by Tesla shareholders, cast the advertisement as “anti-Tesla.” The group that paid for the advert is called a “Tesla hater” by Tech Crunch. The group calls itself an advocate for safe software. The advertisement is brief, and it does not say anything negative about Tesla, its leader, Tesla owners, or EVs. It focuses narrowly on FSD.
The advert makes some strong claims about the safety of FSD. In the video (why not watch it now?), a mock-up of a child is shown run down in a crosswalk. The Tesla, presumably being operated in FSD mode, also drives on the wrong side of the road, swerves in its lane dangerously, and enters a one-way area. We don't know if the vehicle was indeed operating in FSD mode when the video was created.
As an expert tester of driver-assist technology, the thing that stands out to me most is that the Tesla hit a child crossing, crossed the center strip, and entered a one-way at all, FSD or not. I test vehicles on a daily basis costing half what a Tesla does that can prevent all of those things using Pedestrian Auto Braking, Lane Keep Assist, and other technologies. Most recently, I had a Genesis vehicle go bananas with alerts when I (carefully) entered a one-way area at low speed intentionally on private property. Why doesn’t every Tesla, whether it be equipped with FSD or not, prevent all of these dangerous situations? Other cars do. Much less expensive ones.
Tesla fans often revert to the mantra, “You are supposed to maintain control at all times.” Puh-leese. Save your breath. Either Full Self Driving is really, Full-Self-Driving, or it is fraud. Take your pick, Tesla EVangelists.
One of the scariest scenes in the short video shows a Tesla, presumably on FSD, blow off a school bus's Stop indicators. I don’t know of any driver-assist technology capable of dealing with that situation well (or at all).
While pro-FSD are much more common, complaints posted by Tesla owners about FSD within Tesla members-only clubs and forums are not uncommon. One post, complete with a dash video showing the scary moment, read in part, “I had my car try to run through a red light while on AP/FSD…my car was coming to a stop and then decided to start going through the intersection even though the light was still red…” Another post from late 2022 read in part, “FSD observations…If the right lane opens up and gets wider, even if there's a car in front of you, (FSD will) try to follow that line on the right instead of just going straight....if you have the wife in the car, she is definitely not going to be a fan ..... Much less headache with the regular autopilot…”
Feel free to vent your emotions in our comments section. If you do so, please let us know if you think every Tesla should include effective lane-keep assist and pedestrian auto braking.
John Goreham is an experienced New England Motor Press Association member and expert vehicle tester. John completed an engineering program with a focus on electric vehicles, followed by two decades of work in high-tech, biopharma, and the automotive supply chain before becoming a news contributor. In addition to his ten years of work at Torque News, John has published thousands of articles and reviews at American news outlets. He is known for offering unfiltered opinions on vehicle topics. You can follow John on Twitter, and TikTok @ToknCars, and view his credentials at Linkedin
Top pf page image Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.