Tesla’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) package is being attacked as part of a new multi-million-dollar national ad campaign started by a billionaire who willingly admits his bizarre Senate run is all about attacking Elon Musk and Tesla’s self-driving system.
There are many different ways to approach self-driving and none of them is perfect, but Tesla’s approach is undoubtedly the most controversial one.
Detractors have issues with the fact that Tesla released a “Beta” product for customers to use on public roads and basically made those customers responsible for correcting mistakes that the “self-driving” system makes, which happens fairly often.
Many consider this approach to be dangerous, even though Tesla claims to have had no serious accidents in the FSD Beta program since it started over a year ago.
One of the Tesla’s detractors is Dan O’Dowd, a self-described billionaire and founder of Green Hills Software, a privately owned company that makes operating systems and programming tools. O’Dowd recently launched a Senate campaign in his home state of California, but the tech executive made it quite clear that he is making it a single-issue campaign. And, that issue is Tesla’s Full Self-Driving program.
O’Dowd confirmed his intentions in an interview with Politico:
In the interview, O’Dowd stressed that his would be a single-issue campaign. He vowed not to talk about anything except Tesla and more broadly how security of America’s power grids and water treatment plants are deeply vulnerable to cyber attacks.
The tech executive argues that Tesla’s FSD Beta is “unbelievably bad,” “fails all the time,” and should be “banned from America’s roads.”
He highlighted how he believed the system to be dangerous in his first campaign ad titled “Unsafe at Any Speed”:
The video consists of a compilation of clips from longer FSD Beta test drives from owners posted to Youtube.
We previously reported on some of those clips.
O’Dowd is going to pay $2 million for playtime on this ad in 36 states, and he says that he put aside $7 million for his campaign. He also hired a team consisting of Democratic ad maker Mark Putnam, veteran party operative John Blair, and Tim Maltin, a high-powered public affairs executive in London.
The Santa Barbara man is already making the Democratic party nervous as they fear his campaign is going to negatively affect the state’s appointed junior senator, Alex Padilla.
If O’Dowd is not particularly interested in becoming a Senator and his campaign is primarily about preventing Tesla FSD Beta to be used on public roads, it is fair to ask why he doesn’t just pay for an anti-Tesla FSD ad campaign. But it is believed that making it a political ad could help him avoid issues with a higher degree of first amendment protection, especially since his first ad is using clips from videos mostly made by Tesla fans.
O’Dowd said that he is willing to step down if the legislature commits to banning Tesla from deploying its FSD beta on public roads.
While the tech executive argues that his effort, which he is backing with a lot of money, is focused on trying to remove what he believes to be a dangerous technology from public roads, it would be fair to mention that his company, Green Hills Software, is competing with Tesla.
It’s not something that the CEO often mentions when discussing Tesla in his “single-issue campaign,” but Green Hills Software has been developing a lot of automotive software, which it offers to OEMs.
Tesla has been changing the game when it comes to software in the auto industry. The company is building everything from scratch instead of relying on suppliers like most legacy automakers. The electric automaker has quickly built a massive lead on that front that other automakers are now trying to catch up with by developing their own software expertise instead of relying on third-party companies, like Green Hills Software.
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