Opinion: Running For Senate Isn’t Going To Stop Tesla FSD From Saving Lives

Cc
5 min readJun 1, 2022

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Photo by Jannes Glas on Unsplash

I don’t think that running for US Senate or any political office will stop Tesla’s deployment of its Full-Self Driving technology, which has already started saving lives while still in Beta.

As we all know, Dawn Project and Green Hills Software CEO Dan O’Dowd announced earlier this year that he is running for the US Senate and his number one priority is stopping Elon Musk from deploying Tesla’s FSD Beta. Although he has a similar product, he feels that Tesla is endangering lives.

I highly disagree with that take as I’ve seen Tesla’s FSD in person a few times and have heard and reported on countless stories of how Tesla’s FSD Beta has saved lives. I’ve even witnessed it stopping for two cyclists in April when I was a passenger in a friend’s Model 3.

According to Politico, O’Dowd wants to ‘destroy Elon Musk.’ If destroying the competition is the core reason a competitor wants to run for senate, then I think that the priorities are a bit mixed up. It’s one thing not to. like someone, but to run for senate in order to destroy their company? Especially when this person also has a software company that has a similar product?

In an interview with Politico O’Dowd confirmed its initial report that he plans to use his senate bid to “lay waste to Tesla and its polarizing founder.” He called Tesla’s FSD Beta “unbelievably bad,” and said, “it fails all the time.” I have to ask the question; does the founder of Green Hills Software have Tesla’s FSD Beta? If we go by the tweets above and below, it seems as if he doesn’t but was using the content of other Tesla FSD Beta testers without their consent.

In the tweet above, Hyperchange’s Gali Filche pointed out that O’Dowd used one of his videos without asking or getting his permission.

Looking At The Data

I think it’s best to look at the data we have in regards to accidents and Tesla’s FSD Beta. We should also include the countless stories of how Tesla’s technology saved lives and prevented accidents and keep an open mind here.

The latest we have from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration can be found here and in one recent report published in January 2022, the NHTSA presented an overview of motor vehicle crashes in 2020. It should be noted that Tesla began rolling out its FSD Beta in October 2020 and all we have are Tesla’s own data that it publishes quarterly as well as reports from Telsa owners using FSD Beta sharing their own stories. And of course, we have the sensational headlines — many of which have proven to have been misleading. That horrific crash in Houston is an excellent example of that.

In the report, the NHTSA included Fatality Analysis Reporting System, Vehicle Miles Traveled and Population, Fatality and Injury Rates, Police-Reported Crashes, People Killed and Injured by Person Type, and it also went over the three major behavioral factors that cause these accidents which are speeding, alcohol-impaired driving and not using a seat belt.

According to the NHTSA,

“In 2020 there were 1,938 unrestrained passenger vehicle occupant fatalities in crashes that involved alcohol-impaired driving and speeding, a 23-percent increase from 1,581 for the same metric in 2019.

“In 2020 there were 1,638 passenger vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes who were simultaneously unrestrained, alcohol-impaired, and speeding — a 21-percent increase from 1,357 in 2019.”

“Alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities increased by 14 percent from 2019 to 2020 (Table 5), accounting for 30 percent of 2020 overall fatalities. Alcohol-impaired-driving fatality rate per 100 million VMT increased by 29 percent from 0.31 in 2019 to 0.40 in 2020.”

If anything, autonomous vehicle technology would save more lives than risk them. We need more people running for the Senate and other offices to focus more on the actual causes of fatality-causing accidents.

Tesla’s FSD Beta is aiming to do just that and hopefully, Tesla will finally reach that point where the AI makes fewer mistakes than a human driver — and solve FSD Beta and real-world AI simultaneously.

There have been reports, here and there, about Tesla FSD-Beta involved accidents but so far, there have been no fatalities caused by Tesla’s FSD Beta. In the second link above, the article noted that it was the driver’s overreaction that caused the accident although the headline claimed it was Tesla FSD Beta.

To be fair, we should expect accidents involving Tesla vehicles and FSD Beta since things often happen that are beyond our control. One example of this took place this month. A member of the Tesla Owners Club of East Bay, Dennis, was using FSD Beta when he was suddenly T-boned by a red Honda SUV that ran a red light. The accident was caught on video and Dennis not only survived the accident but walked away.

Tesla FSD Beta Is Called Beta For A Reason

I think Tesla is doing a great job with its FSD Beta and it shows. When competitors are so envious to the point that they decide to go into politics just to bring a company down, it really shows that Tesla is so far ahead in its field.

Is FSD Beta perfect? No, and that’s why it’s still in Beta. Many people forget that Beta means the driver is still responsible for their actions behind the wheel even if FSD Beta is engaged or turned on. It’s easier to blame the car for people’s failures.

And speaking of FSD Beta, I’ll quickly share my own experience. As many of my followers know, I do not drive. I don’t have a car. I recently went to Tesla’s Cyber Rodeo and on my way back home, I was picked up by a local Tesla owner who has FSD Beta.

My trip to my apartment from the Baton Rouge airport had zero disengagements and although I did take a video of FSD Beta, it was only after the two back-to-back incidents with cyclists. In both cases, a cyclist appeared literally out of nowhere. They were in our lane coming at us head-on both times.

Both times, Tesla FSD Beta came to a complete stop. It also stopped for a pedestrian that was on the other side of the street because it looked as if the person was about to cross — from behind us.

I wish I had thought to get a video but I’d just got off a plane and wanted to get home and shower.

Conclusion

I think that running for office to take down Elon Musk is not only selfish but a misuse of public service and trust. However, O’Dowd is joining a party that has chosen to make Elon Musk its villain/opponent. With all the attacks from the Democratic party on Elon Musk and its decision to sideline Tesla and SpaceX, it’s no wonder that Elon wants to vote moderately Republican.

The way this party is targeting Elon makes you think that Elon is running for office. They’ve gone that hard against him. Political ads from Senator Warren spreading lies about Elon’s tax information and other leaders rallying up their bases just show how misguided the Democratic Party has become. Again, it’s no wonder their ally left.

I think it’s important to look at all of the data, listen to the stories of Tesla owners who shared their experiences and go from there.

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