The NHTSA is warning those who use real kids or people in general for their own safety testing demonstrations. The reaction comes after a bevy of private individuals began posting similar tests online. Those videos were mostly in response to a political ad that seemed to falsely accuse Tesla’s FSD software of being more dangerous than it actually is.
In response to a question from Bloomberg, the NHTSA has issued a statement directly stating that “Consumers should never attempt to create their own test scenarios or use real people, and especially children, to test the performance of vehicle technology.”
It also stated that “it could be highly dangerous for anyone to attempt to test vehicle technologies on their own,” and that “No one should risk their life, or the life of anyone else, to test the performance of vehicle technology.” This might seem like obvious, common sense thinking but over the last week, a number of videos have arrived online showing exactly this type of dangerous testing.
One of those videos is just over 10 minutes long and features real people, including children used during the testing process. uploaded to the Whole Mars Catalog channel, the video shows a number of different scenarios with both real people and mannequins used during the FSD testing sessions.
The film is a direct response to a political attack ad aimed at Tesla’s Full Self-Driving software paid for by rival software creator Dan O’Dowd. In it, it’s claimed that FSD is active while it hits a child-sized mannequin on the road three separate times. We highlighted the troublesome parts of that video and its methodology here.
While it seems highly likely that the O’Dowd attack ad was manipulated to paint Tesla’s FSD in a poor light, that’s no excuse to endanger humans in amateur safety testing either. Other response videos using nothing but mannequins or cardboard cutouts seem to make the point just as clearly that FSD does a better job than O’Dowd would have us think.
Interestingly enough, the NHTSA confirmed to Bloomberg that it owns a 2017 Tesla Model S 90D with Full Self Driving. So it has clear unfettered access to testing exactly how the software behaves on its own.