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Driving your car with your beloved Fido riding along can be a wonderful experience. But a recent viral video surprised many animal lovers and responsible drivers. In footage posted online, an adorable puppy sits behind the wheel of a Tesla rolling down the road with no signs of a human in it.

Sure, it’s cute to see a dog in a car window enjoying the breeze. But letting an animal pilot a self-driving car is dangerous for the pooch and others on the road. 

Dog ‘drives’ a Tesla in a surprising video

A dog in the back seat of a Tesla EV
A dog in the back seat of a Tesla EV | Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via Getty Images

People often share hilariously astonishing things they do online, and Reddit was the source of the viral video. In a thread titled “OddlyTerrifying,” user MountainousOutset shared a video of a cute dog apparently driving a Tesla Model X on a highway with no human in sight. The video is indeed oddly terrifying.

Because the car is a Tesla, the first thing you might think is that the EV’s owner activated the full self-driving (FSD) system before placing the pup in the driver’s seat. It would have been a relief, but that’s not the case. It turns out the owner enabled only Autopilot, disengaging the steering wheel torque sensors. 

According to Jalopnik, the video was stage-managed. It starts several minutes before the individual in the “filming car” could reach the driving pup. Considering the slow speed of both vehicles, it’s evident they couldn’t have slowed down to get a glimpse of the driving dog. Still, it’s pretty dangerous to let an animal take control of the wheel, especially when Tesla’s FSD feature has recently raised safety concerns. 

The viral video of the dog driving the Tesla raises car safety concerns

There are several car safety concerns related to the video of the pooch apparently driving a Tesla. First, having an animal in the driver’s seat with no human at the wheel raises eyebrows. As if that weren’t enough, the car’s owner wasn’t even in the front passenger seat — the backrest wasn’t tilted to indicate the owner was lounging either.

Because the car had tinted windows, the owner was probably hiding in the back seat. But even Tesla CEO Elon Musk might’ve been shocked after viewing the footage. He has cautioned Tesla owners that the FSD might do more wrong than right at critical moments. Therefore, drivers must always ensure they have their hands on the wheel. 

In fact, the National Transportation Safety Board cautioned Tesla to resolve safety issues in its FSD system before rolling it out to the broader market. The NTSB harshly criticized the automaker for misleading drivers by using the term “full self-driving.” That’s because the board blamed the feature for a fatal 2018 crash after the driver played video games with FSD activated

The viral video could create a terrifying trend


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What if the “driving” dog had hit a child crossing the road? What would the owner have told the child’s parents? That’s just one example of the potential dangers of letting animals sit in the driver’s seat of semiautonomous vehicles. The same could be said for placing a minor at the wheel. 

Arguably the scariest thing about the video is that it went viral. It might compel other vehicle owners to stage the same stunt to get views. It wouldn’t be wise to put other road users in danger for internet fame. It’s not a safe practice, and people with self-driving cars must always be alert with their hands on the wheel at all times.