The Super Bowl is one of the most-watched television events in the United States, with advertisers often spending millions of dollars on commercials during the game. This year’s Super Bowl saw a controversial advertisement featuring Elon Musk’s Tesla cars mowing down child mannequins.
The ad was created by Dawn Project, supported by a Californian tech billionaire, Dan O’Dowd, and it aimed to showcase the company’s Autopilot feature, which is designed to help drivers avoid accidents on the road. The commercial featured a group of child mannequins playing in a suburban street while a Tesla Model 3 drove toward them. The car quickly braked, demonstrating the Autopilot’s ability to detect and avoid obstacles. However, as the car continued down the street, more child mannequins appeared, and the Tesla cars plowed through them without stopping.
The Dawn Project, founded by Dan O’Dowd, involves developing software that never breaks and cannot be hacked. and developed secure operating systems for many projects, such as the Boeing 787, the F-35 fighter jets made by Lockheed Martin, the Boeing B1-B intercontinental nuclear bomber, and the NASA Orion crew exploration vehicle.
The ad sparked intense reactions on social media due to its insensitivity towards child safety. Some viewers called for the commercial to be banned, while others defended it as a powerful statement about the safety of autonomous vehicles.
Despite the backlash, the ad generated significant buzz for Tesla and its Autopilot feature. The controversy also highlights the complex ethical and safety considerations that arise with the increasing use of autonomous vehicles. As technology advances, it will be important for companies like Tesla to continue to address these concerns and communicate the benefits of their products responsibly and sensitively.