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Elon Musk accused of using Toronto residents as 'guinea pigs' for self-driving Teslas

It's been just over a week since Tesla finally gave beta testers the ability to use the full self-driving mode (FSD) on their vehicles in downtown Toronto and, to date, nothing horrible has happened.

Critics of the technology aren't quite yet convinced, however, that Elon Musk's autonomous driving software is safe for use in a city where streetcars stop frequently, bike lanes are often unprotected, and pedestrians get hit by motor vehicles nearly every day.

"On November 24th, Tesla expanded its beta test of 'full self-driving' software to everyone in North America," reads a new online petition directed to Toronto City Council and Mayor John Tory.

"Just hours later, a six-car pileup on the Bay Bridge [in San Francisco] was caused by a Tesla suddenly stopping; two people were hospitalized."

That petition, entitled "Toronto: End Tesla's nonconsensual test trials," contends that the highly-anticipated FSD software is not market-ready. The California electric vehicle giant has nearly been forced to admit this much by releasing the technology only as a beta test.

"Toronto streets are already too dangerous for pedestrians, transit riders, cyclists, and drivers alike. Elon Musk is free to test out his 'full self-driving' software — but he needs to do it on closed courses, or places where people have consciously opted-in to be participants," write the petition's authors.

"We did not sign up to be Elon Musk's guinea pigs. It's time to ban Tesla's 'full self-driving' until it completes the relevant beta testing and can demonstrate a safety record that actually makes our streets safer."

With only seven signatures so far, it's unlikely the petition itself will spark much debate at City Hall, but online chatter suggests that parties on both sides of the debate are passionate about FSD being used in the downtown core.

Tesla started deploying its FSD Beta version software in Canada last weekend, allowing existing testers, as well as new ones who were not previously part of the program, to go hands-free in parts of downtown Toronto that were previously restricted.

Some fans of the brand were thrilled to start testing out the self-driving capabilities of their vehicles (which must still be manned, for the record, when in FSD mode.)

Some videos show cars making turns on their own, while others appear to have human assistance.

Other videos have sparked serious concern among viewers who note that FSD-enabled vehicles sometimes make dangerous-looking traffic maneuvers.

Even some who are fans of the technology admit that downtown Toronto had been geofenced off prior to this month for a reason.

"I can't think of a worse location to launch Tesla FSD than DOWNTOWN TORONTO," mused one Twitter user of the news.

"Saw that Tesla enabled FSD (beta) in downtown Toronto, and I was going to offer the, 'Uh, watch out for Teslas I guess?' commentary, but at the same time... No love lost for Elon, can Tesla FSD actually be worse at driving than Toronto motorists?" asked another.

"Tesla previously forbid 'full self-driving' within Toronto because it would not recognize streetcars picking up or dropping off passengers," notes the petition.

"Recent tests in October also showed that Tesla's falsely-named 'full self-driving' will not recognize school busses with stop signs extended and will drive around them, even when children are crossing the street."

Tesla has yet to respond to a request for comment from blogTO about how the software has changed to make FSD safe enough for areas of Toronto that were previously restricted due to problems with identifying streetcars.

Lead photo by

A Great Capture

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