Santa Barbara, CA – Public safety advocacy group The Dawn Project recently conducted safety tests in collaboration with former Tesla ADAS test operator John Bernal. The latest findings, which were streamed live, showed a Full Self-Driving Tesla blowing past a stopped school bus with its lights flashing and stop sign extended. It also drove past ‘Do Not Enter’ and ‘Road Closed’ signs during real-world testing in Santa Barbara, CA.

In November 2022, The Dawn Project published a full-page ad in The New York Times demonstrating to Tesla that their Full Self-Driving car would blow past a school bus with its lights flashing and stop sign extended. Concurrently, The Dawn Project published the results of safety tests which revealed that Tesla Full Self-Driving would run over a child crossing the road. We offered Tesla the assistance they needed to reproduce the tests but their response was to brand The Dawn Project’s tests as fakes. More importantly, Tesla did not fix the critical safety defects.

The Dawn Project subsequently broadcast a Super Bowl commercial in February 2023, which showed real life footage of a Full Self-Driving Tesla blowing straight past a stopped school bus with its lights flashing and stop sign extended as children were getting on. Elon Musk’s response was to crow on Twitter that my Super Bowl commercial would “greatly increase public awareness that a Tesla can drive itself”. Still Tesla did not fix this major safety defect, and continues to ship known defective and dangerous software to over 400,000 customers.

It was recently reported that a self-driving Tesla ran down a child getting off a school bus in North Carolina. Even this tragic real-world confirmation of The Dawn Project’s warnings did not motivate Tesla to fix this major safety defect.

On June 19, 2023, Tesla issued a major Full Self-Driving update, which was specifically designed to protect vulnerable road users, such as children. The Dawn Project immediately tested this update, in collaboration with John Bernal and his YouTube channel, AI Addict.

During the tests, which were attended by journalists and members of the Santa Barbara community, as well as being live streamed to tens of thousands of viewers on YouTube, Tesla’s Full Self-Driving software repeatedly failed to stop for the stopped school bus with its flashing stop sign extended and drove past ‘Do Not Enter’ and ‘Road Closed’ signs, with a failure rate of “100%”.

These tests also found that the new version of Tesla Full Self-Driving will run down a child crossing the road. Eight months after having been notified of these critical safety defects, Tesla has still not fixed them.

Footage of The Dawn Project’s live safety tests with John Bernal can be found here and below.

John Bernal commented: “The Dawn Project’s safety tests demonstrate the major oversights in Tesla’s development of Full Self-Driving. When I worked for Tesla as a data labeller in the Full Self-Driving team, not once did we ever train the software to recognise or obey a stopped school bus. Given the significant threat to child pedestrians, Tesla should urgently address this safety defect.” 

Dan O’Dowd commented: “We ran a full-page ad in the New York Times in November 2022. When Tesla did nothing to fix these issues, we ran a Super Bowl commercial in February 2023. Tesla still did nothing.  In March 2023, a self-driving Tesla ran down a child as they got off a school bus, just as I had warned would happen.

Even now, after eight months, our latest tests show that a Full Self-Driving Tesla will still mow down a child getting off a school bus. We reiterate our open invitation to Tesla, Elon Musk, NHTSA, politicians, and the media to attend and witness our safety tests and see for themselves whether any of the safety defects we reported have been fixed.

Tesla must fix these safety defects immediately, or stop selling this product until all the known safety defects have been fixed.”

Dan O’Dowd is an entrepreneur and CEO with over 40 years’ experience in designing and writing secure, safety-critical software. Dan has built operating systems for the U.S. military’s fighter jets and some of the world’s most trusted organizations such as NASA, Boeing, and Airbus.

In 2021 Dan O’Dowd founded The Dawn Project, which campaigns to ensure all software in safety-critical infrastructure is secure and to make computers safe for humanity. The first danger The Dawn Project is tackling is Elon Musk’s reckless deployment of unsafe Full Self-Driving cars on our roads.

John Bernal is a former Tesla employee who worked in Tesla’s self-driving team as a test operator and data labeller. In February 2022 John Bernal was fired by Tesla after uploading videos to his YouTube Channel, AI Addict, that showed his Tesla, operating in Full Self-Driving Beta mode, hitting a bollard.

The Dawn Project’s live safety tests were live streamed to tens of thousands of viewers via a Starlink Roamer on June 22 2023. A link to the livestream can be found here.

For a full compendium of The Dawn Project’s previous testing of FSD’s 11.3.6 and 11.4.4 versions conducted in June 2023, please see here.