A Tesla owner posted on social media that the Autopilot feature’s new Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control feature mistook a Burger King sign for a stop sign. According to Electrek, Burger King has now turned that Tesla glitch into an ad campaign to sell their Whoppers.
How the Ad Campaign Worked
In April, Tesla started to push an Autopilot update with the ability to detect and stop the vehicles at traffic lights and stop signs and this new feature is called Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control. It’s still in the beta phase or trial phase. When Burger King heard from a Tesla owner on social media that this feature can confuse Burger King signs for stop signs, they turned it into an interactive ad campaign featuring a Tesla Model 3.
The fast-food chain ran the campaign for a day encouraging people to post to social media the same Autopilot mistake, which they frame as the Autopilot’s artificial intelligence wanting to stop at Burger King. They encourage people with Smart Cars to take pictures of the same behavior and share with the hashtag #AutopilotWhopper or #FreeWhopper in order to receive a code for a free burger. Burger King apparently received more than 1 million views on some of its videos. The promotion ended on June 23.
Autopilot Has a Long Way to Go
This Tesla Autopilot glitch may have amused a few people on social media and given Burger King a valuable advertising opportunity. However, it raises a lot of much more serious concerns about the safety of the Autopilot feature, which has suffered from more than one glitch. Autopilot is a semi-automated feature and Tesla has warned drivers that they should not take their hands off of the wheel when they use it.
However, that message has yet to reach drivers who post videos on social media doing other tasks such as reading or watching a movie while their vehicle cruises on Autopilot. Drivers around Southern California have also been seen and caught on video sleeping at the wheel while their vehicle is on Autopilot.
Our auto defect lawyers believe that these types of semi-automated technologies that have not yet been fully tested or vetted can pose serious risks to public safety. And we have seen accidents that have resulted in serious injuries or even fatalities. While automation may be inevitable for vehicles, it is unconscionable for automakers and tech companies to put vehicles on our roadways before they are ready. The safety of the public should always come first.