Dan O'Dowd really doesn't like Tesla's Self-Driving.
Dan O'Dowd, who claims to be the billionaire founder of Green Hills Software, is making a Senate run in California. We usually don't care much for politics unless it directly affects the automotive industry.
What makes O'Dowd's campaign interesting is that it's entirely based on Tesla hating. More specifically, Tesla's Full Self-Driving system.
O'Dowd recently sat down for an interview with Politico and called the system "Unbelievably bad. It fails all the time," said O'Dowd. Usually, a politician would have more than one issue they'd like to address, but O'Dowd is a single-issue kind of guy. He's out to trash talk Tesla, and that's it. Not a fan of the Model S Plaid, then.
To that end, O'Dowd made a campaign video, which is a compilation video of Tesla's Self-Driving failing a few times. The tagline is this: "Tesla's Self-Driving, it's dangerous at any speed."
O'Dowd is also quite open about the fact that he's not that serious about becoming a Senator. He simply wants to prevent Tesla from using its Full Self-Driving Beta on public roads.
As evidence of how uninterested O'Dowd is in the position, look at the specifics of this TV campaign. He's paying $2 million to run the above ad, not just in California. It will run in 35 other states. This approach makes zero sense unless O'Dowd is merely in the run to take aim at Tesla.
We're sure you're wondering why he doesn't just pay to run the ads. So did we. Politico mentions that formally running for office affords him greater first amendment protection, and it makes it more likely that TV stations will actually run the spot. It's also an excellent way to measure support for the movement. Both the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety and CCC Intelligent Solutions recently published reports on how advanced driving systems are making us worse drivers.
"I am going to win votes," said O'Dowd. "And every vote I win is someone who thinks my issue is more important than other issues."
According to Politico, O'Dowd's campaign is making some Democrats nervous. This is despite Elon Musk making Democrats even more nervous following his recent announcement that he wants to buy Twitter.
Others suggest it's just an underhanded tactic, as O'Dowd's company is technically a Tesla rival. Green Hills Software's website reveals that it also operates in the automated driving systems space, mainly on the software side. Interesting…
"This isn't about competition, it's about keeping our families and our communities safe from defective software that simply doesn't work," said O'Dowd. "I'd drop out if we got full self-driving off the road" for an extended period, he added.