A video on YouTube that showed Tesla owners testing whether the company’s Full Self-Driving (FSD) software would stop for children has been removed.
Omar Qazi, the Tesla fan account’s manager, put out a call for a parent in San Francisco willing to test the software on their child, and Whole Mars Blog published the resulting video on YouTube last week. Tad Park, CEO of Volte Equity and a Tesla investor, agreed to let Qazi conduct a test with his five-year-old daughter and son for the purposes of this research.
Qazi did not respond to the story before it was published, but he did tweet a different link to the video on Friday.
Park told Insider that he, his son, and his daughter took part in the test and that he believes news outlets put pressure on YouTube to remove the “harmless” video.
“This wasn’t a test because we weren’t putting any strain on the system,” he told Insider. Simply put, “it was a demonstration of the system’s capabilities and the ability to identify pedestrians.”
Park told CNBC that during tests with his children, the car never exceeded eight miles per hour, and that he was prepared to intervene if FSD did not.
This video was released in response to a marketing campaign by Tesla critic Dan O’Dowd, showing what appeared to be a Tesla using FSD and colliding with a child-sized mannequin. The video sparked outrage in the Tesla community, with many Tesla fans attempting to defend the software in response to O’Dowd’s advertisement.
The software was not only tested on real children, but also on Park and Qazi, two Tesla fans. A man from North Carolina posted a video to YouTube earlier this month showing him testing the software with his 11-year-old son. Two videos show driver Carmine Cupani reaching speeds of up to 35 mph while his son stands in the street. The car either comes to a complete stop or slows down and manoeuvres around his son in both cases.
Cupani remained silent despite Insider’s requests. The video is still available on YouTube.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) warned drivers last week that using children in beta software testing could be dangerous.
“No one should put their own or anyone else’s life in danger to test the performance of vehicle technology,” the NHTSA said in a statement to Bloomberg. No one, especially children, should ever create their own test scenarios or use real people to test the efficacy of vehicle technology.
The NHTSA appears to have been testing Tesla’s software for some time. The organisation has been running an automated testing programme since the year 2020.
Full Self-Driving (FSD) is a paid upgrade that allows Teslas to perform tasks such as lane switching, merging onto and off highways, recognising stop signs and traffic lights, and parking without the need for human intervention. Tesla has warned customers that the system is not intended to replace human drivers and that they should keep their hands on the wheel and be ready to take control at any time.
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