A critic of the company's Full Self-Driving technology was silenced by Musk's lawyers.
In a cease-and-desist letter seen by the Washington Post, the carmaker argued video footage posted to the Internet by the so-called "Dawn Project" showingTesla vehicles running over child-size crash test dummies was defamatory and needed to be taken down.
In a letter dated August 11th, the deputy general counsel of the company wrote that the tests were misuse and misrepresented the capabilities of the company.
The video has been viewed 1 million times, prompting amateur fans of the company to try and recreate the test with real children, only for the video's creators to stop them.
According to the Washington Post, the company's lawyers leaned on claims by a website that the test was never done, since it required map data to be activated and the test was done on a closed course.
The Dawn Project responded by giving the website a sworn statement that the system was activated in accordance with the instructions in the manual.
The cease-and-desist letter gave Dan O'Dowd, an auto industry supplier behind the Dawn Project, the chance to use Musk's words against him and joke about his past claims that he would buy Twitter to protect human rights.
Musk is threatening to take me to court over the ad. The CEO of Green Hills Software said that Mr. Free Speech Absolutist was just another cry baby hiding behind his lawyer.
He told the Post that he did not intend to take the video down.
In January, O'Dowd came out of nowhere to buy full page ads warning Americans of the risks of FSD and claim he would "organize the opposition to Musk's ill-advised FSD robot car experiment".
According to The Dawn Project, millions of people would die every day if it were possible to drive without supervision. It wants to stop unsafe software from being used in safety-critical systems.
For Musk, the promise of potentially $50 billion or more in additional annual revenue with the kind of high double-digit margins typical of the software industry is something he wants to see.
He told shareholders at the annual meeting that it could be that crazy.
Musk gave a limited number of customers access to the incomplete software in October 2020.
When Musk argued that the code needed to be identified before a finished product could be shipped to customers, he referred to it as a term from the software industry.
It came to take on the meaning of an incomplete feature undergoing rolling development cycles for upwards of two years now, during which Musk made major revisions in the software build.
He claimed that drivers with the highest safety score were the most trustworthy. The fund manager and the bull of the company were able to jump the line.
Musk has been able to recruit his most vociferous fans to serve as developers for the project.
Not only do they provide a constant stream of new data he can mine to make improvements, Musk also offloads liability for ensuing accidents onto his paying customers in the process.
At this month's shareholder meeting, he said that over 100,000 FSD owners in North America have already racked up over 40 million miles.
The August 11th letter by Eskin was written to defend the company's claims. This week's exchange shows why these need to be cautious.
James Locke, founder of aTesla Owners club, is one of the few people to have purchased the product. He snapped when he said that the latest version needed a lot of work.
Locke was told by Musk that he shouldn't have volunteered to test the prototype if he had a problem with it.
He wrote that James contacted him directly to be included in the early version of the game. It's not right to publicly criticize something he had asked for in the early version of the computer program.
After Locke apologized under pressure from other fans, he tagged Musk and praised the software in an apparent reversal of his initial criticism.
Potential customers of the company may want to carefully consider the competing claims on social media before they pay for a feature that will cost $15,000.