Tesla fires employee for posting genuine driver assist bungles on YouTube despite actually having no such policy
Tesla offers a Full Self Driving (FSD) Beta program to customers who are willing to pay to test the company's advanced driver assist software. The aim, of course, is to improve FSD's performance based on user feedback and as such users do post their experiences on social media. However, a Tesla employee's zeal to review the driver assist feature cost him his job.
John Bernal, who is now a former Tesla employee, reviewed FSD Beta on his YouTube channel AI Addict last month. In that review, Bernal showed how his Tesla 2021 Model 3 hit a bollard while taking an automated right turn forcing him to manually regain control.
According to a report by CNBC, Bernal was apparently verbally cautioned by his employer that he "broke Tesla policy" and that his YouTube channel was a "conflict of interest". In fact, one of Bernal's earlier videos in March 2021 showed FSD Beta 8.2 causing all sorts of driving nightmares including picking the wrong lane, several collision close calls, and even a near-head-on accident. Soon, he was handed over the termination in writing without specifying any reason. Bernal said,
A manager from my Autopilot team tried to dissuade me from posting any negative or critical content in the future that involved FSD Beta. They held a video conference with me but never put anything in writing."
Subsequently, Bernal's FSD Beta access was revoked — strange considering that Tesla as such does not forbid public reviews of its driver assist software. Bernal also said that he had been quite transparent about his YouTube channel with his managers at Tesla. He also had no safety strikes in the software either.
Tesla did require users to sign non-disclosure agreements in the past and be selective in their criticism of the software, though Elon himself thinks otherwise.
It is interesting to note here that Tesla offers employees free access to FSD (worth about US$12,000 up front or US$199 per month) in exchange for the right to collect internal and external vehicle data.
Though John Bernal is no longer associated with Tesla, he apparently still cares for the company and FSD's "life-saving potential". He still has public FSD access for his Model 3 and intends to continue to test FSD Beta on his channel by borrowing friends' cars.