Missy Cummings deleted her Twitter account: why it’s bad for Tesla



It was an incredibly stupid gesture. Unfortunately, we have no doubt that the mob that attacked her is probably celebrating her “victory”. Everything points to the exact opposite: it’s something they can regret for the rest of their lives if they really love Tesla that much. What they did was hurt the business.

The first reason is a question of reputation. Instead of attracting more people to the brand they claim to stand for, these guys are actually pushing them away. Famous people have said before that they will never buy a Tesla no matter how good they think cars are. It is a way of avoiding being part of the “club”. Others compare these owners to some kind of cult, even fundamentalist religions. Their behavior towards Cummings gives critics even more reason to support him.

What does the business have to do with this? A typical business would have some sort of protection by not getting involved in the discussion. Lars Moravy and Zachary Kirkhorn tried to be professional about it when calling for Q3 2021 results, but it was already too late. Elon Musk said Cummings was biased on Twitter. She quickly invited him to discuss it at any time. Tesla’s CEO did not respond.

He only replied to a fake Missy Cummings who tweeted that they would take “hers” away from her. FSD Beta because his LiDAR company couldn’t compete with Tesla. The owner of that account has since changed his name to Jeff Who, but the internet never forgets. A screenshot shared by Cristina Balan shows Musk’s interaction with the person behind this Twitter account. Any CEO would avoid this trap. Musk’s response showed he thought it was at least entertaining.

To make Cummings’ bashing seem more legitimate, these guys say Cummings is biased because she’s on the Veoneer board. The Swedish LiDAR would make her unfit for the post of security adviser. It is to say the least worthy of the name. Mahmood Hikmet patiently explained why in a Twitter thread.

In summary, Missy Cummings was not invited by NHTSA because it is neutral or impartial. The security agency could simply appoint a judge if that was the goal. What NHTSA wants is their expertise: they need people who know what they’re talking about. Cummings does this when it comes to autonomous driving technology and its interaction with humans. She is a global specialist on the subject.

As Hikmet points out, she is an advisor. The government can get her opinion and accept it, change its policies a bit because of what Cummings is saying, or ignore what she raises altogether. Petitioning to stop him from advising NHTSA gives his role more weight than it actually has. With all the repercussions, it may even become true.

Tesla fans who have written a petition asking NHTSA to quash his nomination say they are doing so in the name of safety. Tesla’s FSD and Autopilot would save lives. Still, they don’t explain why the company hasn’t adopted the proper testing with its software. All other car manufacturers only put something in the hands of their customers when it is stable. Tesla has released beta software for customers to test.

He also hasn’t forgotten a legal warning that blames them if something bad happens while testing the software. It would be interesting to hear any explanation that might portray this as safe behavior in any way. So far, we haven’t seen a single argument to defend what didn’t seem totally crazy or spurious. If these guys are against Cummings, his words about safety could be heard with more interest by the government.

In addition to this, the petition states that “for more than 13 years the industry has tried unsuccessfully to bring self-driving cars powered by LiDAR to the market.” It is an ode to disinformation. First and foremost, because there aren’t any self-driving cars on the market, although some Tesla fans say it’s perfectly safe to be in the back seat when a Tesla is on autopilot.

Tesla himself has been promising self-driving cars for years. From a “mostly resolved issue” in 2016, it remains fundamentally unresolved for a company that said its cars would become valued assets because of this capability. Tesla’s promises are even less credible after the departure of the Autopilot program director.

CJ Moore was the man who told the California DMV that “Elon’s tweet doesn’t match the engineering reality” when Tesla CEO promised full autonomy soon. It didn’t take long for Moore to leave the company since that episode. We only found out because a lawsuit against Tesla and Autopilot wants Moore to be a witness, and the company has said he is no longer an employee.

When someone says that a vehicle that does not run on its own is an “autonomous car”, it is a “car wash”, as Liza Dixon defined this behavior. In other words, they give the impression that something is more autonomous than it actually is.

This is not the only mistake in this short sentence of the petition against Cummings. LiDARs are increasingly cheaper and integrated into a series of production vehicles.

Automotive journalist Lei Xing has compiled a list of Chinese vehicles that will soon have LiDARs: Xpeng P5, NIO ET7, R Auto ES33, ArcFox Alpha S HI, WM Motor M7, IM L7 and GAC Aion LX. Volvo’s successor to the XC90 will use LiDARs, along with Lucid Air, BMW i4, BMW iX and several other products. None of them claim to be autonomous.

The objective of LiDAR is to create redundancy, or to have a backup in the event of failure of one of the detection systems of an autonomous driving system. If the cameras were dirty, radar could help detect objects. If the radars were in trouble, LiDAR could keep the car running. In addition to refusing to use LiDAR, Tesla ditched radar some time ago.

The company claims to be able to solve autonomous driving with cameras only. If one of them breaks down or gets a dirty lens, there is no backup. A recent AAA study proved ADAS systems might not work as they should if it rains.

According to the petition against Cummings, Tesla’s system is said to be safer because it is easier and cheaper to implement. LiDARs would require expensive modernization. Ironically, Musk admitted that his company would need to replace cameras on vehicles manufactured before Tesla Autonomy Day on April 22, 2019. It’s a prime example of modernization. And it only costs up to $ 10,000: that’s what Tesla charges anyone willing to buy FSD.

If the campaign to prevent Cummings from joining the NHTSA was based solely on incorrect (or deliberately misleading) assumptions and concepts, it would at least have been civilized (albeit ultimately dishonest). This was not the case, as Cummings shows by shutting down his Twitter account.

In his thread, Hikmet shared a screenshot of the tweets made about him. It’s a horror show of misogyny, sexism, vulgarity and kick-ass chewing towards Musk. You can check this out for yourself in the Hikmet thread embedded below, although we don’t recommend it. It is repulsive and depressing.

If Cummings really had something against Tesla, as his critics claim, that sort of behavior certainly didn’t help. Not only with what she thinks of Tesla’s behavior, but also with what other authorities may consider. The U.S. Transportation Secretary recently said Musk should call him if he had anything to say about Cummings.

Jennifer Homendy once said Complete self-driving is “deceptive and irresponsible”. The Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) tweeted in favor of Cummings and shared “I will not back down” performed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Homendy could have chosen Toasters performing one of their most famous songs, but she’s probably not that much of a ska fan.

This shows the kind of support Cummings enjoys with those who are critical in the security arena. After what she’s been through, this support tends to increase. We wonder how many signatures a supporting petition would get Changer.org. No one has created one so far.

The one made by Tesla fans and investors seems to have stagnated at just under 23,000 signatures. From a potentially large group of Tesla owners, it wasn’t as popular as they probably expected.

Ironically, this may be good for the business: It may mean that most customers believe Cummings can help make Tesla safer precisely by questioning its approach to autonomous driving. Those who claim it’s safe only worry about their stocks and what they can brag about in YouTube videos.

Hopefully she won’t back down or let them down despite all the nonsense she’s had to endure these days. Not being on Twitter will likely make her more productive as an NHTSA Safety Advisor. Thanks, detractors.

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