YouTube has removed a pair of videos from its platform that showed Tesla drivers doing amateur vehicle safety tests using their children instead of mannequins in the road or driveway.
The tests were to determine whether a slow-moving Tesla vehicle equipped with the company’s latest driver assistance systems would automatically avoid hitting pedestrians – in this case children – walking or standing on the road.
Following CNBC’s arrival, YouTube spokeswoman Elena Hernandez wrote in an email Friday night:
“YouTube does not allow content that shows a minor engaging in dangerous activities or encourages minors to engage in dangerous activities. After review, we have determined that videos brought to us by CNBC violate our harmful and dangerous policies, and as a result we have removed the content.”
The specific policy cited by YouTube relates to harmful and dangerous content. The Company removes videos that encourage dangerous or illegal activities that may result in serious bodily injury or death when it becomes aware of them. “Specifically, we do not allow content that exposes or encourages minors in harmful situations that could lead to injury, including dangerous stunts, daring or pranks,” the spokesperson said.
Tesla markets its driver assistance systems in the US as a standard package called Autopilot and a premium option called Full Self-Driving (or FSD) that costs $12,000 up front or $199 per month. It also offers some drivers access to a beta program called the Full Self-Driving Beta if they score highly on the company’s in-vehicle safety tests.
None of these systems make Tesla cars self-driving, and they are not safe to use without a driver behind the wheel, attentive to the road and able to steer, brake, or accelerate on short notice. Tesla owner’s manuals warn drivers that the systems do not make their cars self-driving.
Driver: You are ready to take charge at any time
In a video posted Sunday, August 14, Tesla owner and investor in the company that Elon Musk drives, Tad Park, drives a Model 3 car at eight miles per hour toward one of his children on a road in the San Francisco Bay Area. The video has garnered tens of thousands of views before YouTube, a section of Google Alphabet, remove it.
Park is the CEO of Volt Equity, and a portfolio manager for an ETF focused on self-driving technology called VCAR. “I’ve tried the product myself, and I believe in my investment,” Park told CNBC. “We took extensive safety precautions so that the kids were never at risk. First we tried on a mannequin, then we tried with a tall basketball player, then eventually one of the kids stood up and my other kid crossed the street.”
In a follow-up email, Park wrote, “First we tried on a mannequin, then we tried on a tall basketball player, then one kid stood up and my other kid crossed the street.”
The car was never traveling more than eight miles per hour, he said, and explained, “We made sure the car recognized the kid. Even if the system failed completely, I was ready to take on the job at any time. I had a sense of when I would have needed the brakes if I didn’t The car wasn’t slowing down enough.”
Park ran the tests in part as a refutation of a national advertising campaign from the founder of a software company Dan O’Dowd He criticizes Tesla’s driver assistance features.
The video, which has now been removed, was posted on a YouTube channel called Whole Mars Catalog, which is run by Omar Kadi, a major contributor and promoter of Tesla on social networks. Tesla CEO Elon Musk interacts frequently with the blog and Qazi on Twitter.
In addition to YouTube, CNBC has reached out to the California National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asking if these videos are safe or legal.
NHTSA said on August 16, “NHTSA advises the public that it can be extremely dangerous for anyone to attempt to test vehicle technologies alone. No one should risk their own life, or the life of anyone else, to test the performance of vehicle technology.”
The agency also noted, “As NHTSA has consistently reported, no vehicle available for purchase today is capable of driving itself. The most advanced vehicle technologies available for purchase today provide driver assistance and require a human driver who is fully attentive at all times to perform the task of driving and to monitor the surrounding environment.”
“As advanced vehicle technologies become more widely available, DMV shares the same concerns with other traffic safety stakeholders about the potential for driver misunderstanding or misuse of these features,” California’s DMV told CNBC by email. to Tesla and continues to emphasize the importance of providing clear and effective communication to customers, buyers, and the general public about the capabilities, limitations, and intended use of any vehicle technology.”
California DMV recently alleged that Tesla engaged in deceptive marketing or false advertising in connection with its driver assistance systems. It’s also in the midst of a lengthy safety review of Tesla’s technology including the FSD Beta.
Police in the city where Park took the test drive did not respond in time for publication. Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.