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Elon Musk responds after Super Bowl ad shows Tesla cars crashing and ‘killing children’

One of Tesla’s biggest critics organised the advertisement to highlight the dangers of self-driving cars

Lucy Skoulding
Monday 13 February 2023 17:11 GMT
Anti-Tesla advert aired during Super Bowl

Elon Musk has responded to an advert shown during the Super Bowl on Sunday shows a Tesla car crashing and “killing children”.

One of Tesla’s biggest critics organised the advertisement to highlight the dangers of self-driving cars, doing so while founder Elon Musk was in the audience of the game.

Millions of Americans and people all over the world gathered to watch the annual NFL championship game on Sunday. Alongside watching the game, the halftime show and even the ads are part of the entertainment.

This year, viewers were shown an ad of a self-driving Tesla 3 car ignoring a school bus’s warning lights and crashing into a child mannequin, hitting a pram and speeding past no-entry signs.

Elisabeth Murdoch, Elon Musk, and Rupert Murdoch sitting together at the 2023 Super Bowl (Fox)

It was organised by Dan O’Dowd, a tech entrepreneur from California who is campaiging against the Tesla self-driving cars. The 66-year-old believes the cars are a danger to others on the roads.

Musk, who was sitting in the audience of the Super Bowl on Sunday, was spotted talking to owner of the Fox empire Rupert Murdoch just after the half time show featuring Rihanna.

Rihanna performed during the half time show of the Super Bowl (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Musk has previously said it would be morally wrong to ban self-driving cars, as they save lives.

Appearing at Nvidia’s developers conference in 2015, Musk said humans driving cars is “too dangerous”.

He said: “You can’t have a person driving a two-tonne death machine.”

The graphic ad from safety advocacy group The Dawn Project was shown in several parts of the US, including in Washington DC.

Before the game, Mr O’Dowd tweeted: “Watch The Dawn Project’s #SuperBowl ad demonstrate critical safety defects in @Tesla.

“Full Self-Driving. 6 months ago we reported FSD [Full Self-Driving] would run down a child.

“Tesla hasn’t even fixed that! To focus their attention, @NHTSAgov must turn off FSD until Tesla fixes all safety defects.

“Nearly all of the deniers below have a huge conflict of interest. They are $TSLA shareholders desperately trying to cover up grotesque safety defects in @Tesla Full Self-Driving just to line their own pockets.

“We publish footage of each test, including multiple angles showing controls not touched, and fanboys still confidently assert we faked them!

“To remove all doubt that these severe safety defects are real we invite @ElonMusk, @NHTSAgov, the media to witness a public demonstration.”

It’s estimated that a 30-second commercial during the Super Bowl costs around $7 million (£5.81 million), according to

Self-driving cars are not yet available to buy.

The Independent has contacted Tesla for a comment.

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