Andrew Yang uses Tesla's Autopilot feature in a new ad — and he breaks the same rule Elon Musk has on TV

YouTube/Andrew Yang for President 2020Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang using Tesla’s Autopilot feature in a campaign ad.
  • Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang uses Autopilot, Tesla’s semi-autonomous driver-assistance feature, in a new ad.
  • Yang uses Autopilot with his hands off the steering wheel in the ad. Tesla instructs Autopilot users to always keep their hands on the wheel, even when Autopilot is in use.
  • Tesla has been criticised for using language like “full self-driving” to describe Autopilot’s capabilities, but the electric-car maker argues that the feature helps to keep people safe.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang drives a Tesla Model X SUV and uses the electric-car maker’s Autopilot and Smart Summon driver-assistance features in a campaign ad.

The ad, which was uploaded to YouTube on January 24, focuses on the political impact of job losses caused by automation. Autopilot can control steering, braking, and acceleration in some environments, but requires driver supervision. Smart Summon can drive a vehicle to its owner, who tells the vehicle when to start and stop with Tesla‘s mobile app, in a parking lot.

The ad shows Yang using Autopilot with his hands off the steering wheel (though he does keep his eyes on the road). In its Model X owner’s manual, Tesla says Autopilot users “must keep [their] hands on the steering wheel at all times.”

Yang’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Autopilot has attracted controversy for its role in a handful of high-profile – and sometimes fatal – crashes. Tesla has said the drivers involved in the some of the crashes were not using the feature correctly, but some experts have said it’s difficult for the human brain to remain attentive when a computer has some control over driving tasks.

Tesla has also received criticism for how it markets Autopilot, as it uses the phrase “full self-driving” to describe capabilities that cannot be used in all environments and require that the driver be ready to take control at all times. Like Yang, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has also been filmed using Autopilot with his hands off the wheel.

Tesla has argued that, overall, Autopilot makes drivers safer,pointing to data that shows a lower rate of crashes in Tesla vehicles using Autopilot than in all vehicles in the US. But that data doesn’t account for the fact that Autopilot is designed for use only during highway driving, something that by itself could result in fewer accidents.

Tesla’s argument was supported by a 2019 Bloomberg survey of 5,000 Model 3 sedan owners, in which over 90% of respondents said they believed Autopilot made them safer.

Musk said last year that he supports Yang’s candidacy.

Are you a current or former Tesla employee? Do you have an opinion about what it’s like to work there? Contact this reporter at [email protected]. You can also reach out on Signal at 646-768-4712 or email this reporter’s encrypted address at [email protected].

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.