There has been a recent debate regarding Tesla’s Full Self-Driving beta software. People have begun to question whether the feature responsible for steering, braking, and accelerating can stop for children in its path.
The speculation started when an advertising campaign by The Dawn Project showed a Tesla Model 3, which was allegedly utilizing Full Self-Driving Beta software, driving in a lane marked by cones and plowing through children-sized mannequins.
In the video, Dan O’Dowd, the CEO of Green Hills Software, calls Tesla’s feature the worst commercial software he’s ever seen and pleads with viewers to tell Congress to shut it down.
Carmine Cupani, an owner of an auto shop that focuses on imports and Teslas, challenged the campaign’s claim with the help of his 11-year-old son.
Cupani recorded himself driving a 2022 Tesla Model S Plaid and said he used the non-beta version of autopilot. Cupani approaches his son, who is standing in the middle of the road, at approximately 35 miles per hour.
The car decelerates and comes to a complete stop and Cupani said he did not need to use his feet to brake.
Another video might support O’Dowd’s claims. In this video, Franklin Cadamuro uses boxes in place of a child. The Tesla using FSD Beta drives toward the “Box Boy” at 20 miles per hour and begins to slow down a few feet before the boxes. But then it speeds up again and runs over “Box Boy.”
Critics of O’Dowd’s video say using cones as lane markings might have affected the car’s ability to avoid the mannequin. Cadamuro’s Tesla drove between a curb and a line of cones. O’Dowd responded with another video of a Tesla hitting a mannequin that was standing in a crosswalk with no cones present.