Santa Barbara, CA – Safety Advocacy Group The Dawn Project has today published footage of Tesla Full Self-Driving failing to handle the simple “drive to work” showcased by Tesla in a 2016 video which falsely claimed to show the capabilities of its self-driving software. 

In 2016 Tesla showcased a journey from a residential address in Palo Alto to the company’s nearby headquarters as a demonstration of the advanced capabilities of its self-driving software, stating in the video’s introductory card: “The person in the driver’s seat is only there for legal reasons. He is not doing anything. The car is driving itself.”

Earlier this year, it was revealed that that video was staged. In a June 2022 deposition, Tesla’s current Director of Autopilot, Ashok Elluswamy, testified that the 2016 video was staged, and that Tesla’s Autopilot team had to 3D map the exact route beforehand. Elluswamy also admitted under oath that during the filming of the video, the “self-driving” Tesla crashed into a fence in the Tesla parking lot. The testimony also revealed that Elon Musk personally oversaw the creation of the 2016 video, and even dictated the opening text of the video which lied about the software’s capabilities.

Seven years later, in September 2023, The Dawn Project recreated the “drive to work” route that Tesla had showcased in 2016 on the most recent version of its Full Self-Driving software and despite seven years of development and frequent updates to the software, Tesla Full Self-Driving still regularly fails to complete the route without human intervention.

The Dawn Project ran the route four times in September 2023, during which the software:

  • Tried repeatedly to pull out into fast-moving traffic 
  • Failed on multiple occasions to follow a basic navigation route on simple roads
  • Took a wrong turn, got stuck and asked for human assistance in performing a U-Turn

The route, from 1095 Klamath Drive in Menlo Park to Tesla’s offices at Deer Creek Road, a distance just under seven miles, was tested by The Dawn Project on 10 September 2023. In four test runs, the software committed numerous errors, and failed to complete the route without the driver intervening. 

The Dawn Project is calling on NHTSA and the US Government to immediately ban Tesla’s defective and dangerous Full Self-Driving software from public roads, until the software is conclusively shown to be safe for public use by independent third-parties.

Founder of The Dawn Project and safety-critical software expert Dan O’Dowd, commented: “Tesla Full Self-Driving is riddled with critical safety defects and is the worst commercial software I have ever seen. Tesla duped investors and the public in 2016 by staging a video showcasing the software’s supposed capabilities, despite the fact that the software couldn’t even exit Tesla’s parking lot without crashing. 

“After seven years of constant development and public hype peddled by Elon Musk, Tesla Full Self-Driving still cannot complete this basic commute on simple roads in Silicon Valley. Our tests reveal not only Tesla Full Self-Driving’s embarrassing incompetence, but also point to catastrophic ineptitude within Tesla’s engineering team, who after seven years have failed to develop a self-driving system that can drive even five miles without requiring human intervention.”

“Tesla is falling further and further behind in the race to fully autonomous driving. While other companies already offer paying robotaxi services, Tesla Full Self-Driving is a dangerous threat to public safety that must be banned immediately until it is safe for public use.”