Tesla Model 3
YouTube has removed a pair of videos from its platform showing Tesla drivers performing amateur vehicle safety tests using their own children instead of mannequins on the road or in the driveway.
The tests aimed to determine whether a slow Tesla equipped with the company’s latest driver assistance systems would automatically avoid colliding with pedestrians – in this case children – walking or stationary on the road.
After contacting CNBC, a YouTube spokeswoman, Elena Hernandez, wrote in an email late Friday:
“YouTube does not allow content that shows a minor engaging in dangerous activities or encouraging minors to engage in dangerous activities. After review, we have determined that videos submitted to us by CNBC violate our harmful and dangerous policies, and therefore we have removed the content.”
The specific policy cited by YouTube is for harmful and dangerous content. The company removes videos that promote dangerous or illegal activities that risk causing serious physical harm or death when it becomes aware of them. The spokesperson said: “Specifically, we don’t allow content that shows or encourages minors in dangerous situations that could lead to injury, including dangerous stunts, dares, or pranks.”
Tesla markets its driver assistance systems in the United States as a standard package called Autopilot and a premium option called Full Self-Driving (or FSD) that costs $12,000 upfront or 199 $ per month. It also offers select drivers access to an experimental program called Full Self-Driving Beta if they score high on the company’s in-car safety tests.
None of these systems make Tesla cars self-driving, or safe to use without a driver behind the wheel, aware of the road, and able to steer, brake, or accelerate at short notice. Tesla owner’s manuals warn drivers that the systems do not make their cars self-driving.
Driver: “I was ready to take over at any time”
In a video posted on Sunday, August 14, a Tesla owner and investor in the Elon Musk-led company Tad Park drove a Model 3 vehicle at 8 mph towards one of his children on an area road. of San Francisco Bay. No one was injured during the test.
The video had tens of thousands of views before YouTube, a division of Alphabet’s Google, deleted it. Alphabet also owns Waymo, the self-driving vehicle technology developer and robotaxi operator.
Park is the CEO of Volt Equity and the portfolio manager of an ETF focused on self-driving technology called VCAR. “I have experienced the product myself and believe in my investments,” Park told CNBC. “We have taken many safety measures so that children are never in danger.”
In a follow-up email, Park wrote, “First we tried on a dummy, then we tried on a big basketball player, then finally a kid got up and my other kid ran across the street.”
He said the car never went faster than 13 km/h and explained: “We made sure the car recognized the child. Even if the system failed completely, I was ready to take over at any time. I was going to have to brake if the car didn’t slow down enough.”
The tests were a success according to Park, as the car slowed down and did not hit any objects, pedestrians or her children. When asked if he would do it again, he said: “I don’t think any more tests are needed, but if I did, yes, I would do this test again.”
“That being said, I wouldn’t recommend people deliberately try this at home,” he added.
Park conducted the tests in part to refute a national ad campaign by the software company’s founder Dan O’Dowd criticizing Tesla’s driver assistance features.
The now-deleted video was posted on a YouTube channel called Whole Mars Catalog, which is run by Omar Qazi, a stockholder and big Tesla social media promoter. Tesla CEO Elon Musk frequently interacts with the blog and Qazi on Twitter.
In addition to YouTube, CNBC has contacted the California DMV and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to ask if these videos are safe or legal.
NHTSA said on August 16, “NHTSA advises the public that it could be very dangerous for anyone to attempt to test vehicle technologies for themselves. No one should risk their life, or the life of someone else, to test the performance of a vehicle. The technology.”
The agency also noted, “As NHTSA has consistently stated, no vehicle available for purchase today is capable of driving itself. and monitoring of the surrounding environment.”
The California DMV told CNBC via email: “As advanced vehicle technologies become more widely available, DMV shares the same concerns as other traffic safety stakeholders about the potential for misunderstanding or misuse of these features by the driver. DMV has previously told Tesla and continues to stress the importance of providing clear and effective communication to customers, buyers and the general public about the capabilities, limitations and intended use of any technology of vehicle. “
The California DMV recently alleged that Tesla engaged in misleading marketing or false advertising with respect to its driver assistance systems. It’s also in the midst of a lengthy security-related review of Tesla’s technology, including FSD Beta.
Police in the city where Park took the test drive did not respond in time for publication. Tesla did not immediately return a request for comment.