- John Bernal was a Tesla employee who posted reviews of the company’s self-driving tech to his personal YouTube channel.
- Bernal said he was fired last month and that managers cited his YouTube channel as a reason why.
- CNBC reports the termination came shortly after Bernal posted a video of his Tesla colliding with a bollard.
A man who worked for Tesla’s autopilot division says he was dismissed for running a YouTube channel reviewing the company’s self-driving tech.
John Bernal runs YouTube channel AI Addict, where he posts videos of himself driving a Tesla and using its Full Self-Driving (FSD) feature.
Bernal said he had been fired from Tesla in a video posted Tuesday, and in an interview with CNBC.
“I was fired from Tesla in February with my YouTube being cited as the reason why. Even though my uploads are from my personal vehicle off company time or property with software I paid for,” Bernal said in his video.
The safety of Tesla’s self-driving tech has become a sensitive topic for the company. Tesla’s senior director of public policy wrote a letter to senators last week seeking to reassure them about the safety of FSD, which is an enhanced version of Tesla’s Autopilot feature.
Bernal also said in his video that shortly after he was fired, his personal car’s FSD system was suspended. Bernal added he had “zero improper use strikes” on the morning his FSD was suspended.
Improper use strikes are events recorded by Tesla to help determine when drivers are using the FSD system safely.
CNBC reported Bernal’s termination came shortly after he posted a video which showed his car colliding with a bollard while it had FSD beta activated.
CNBC reviewed records of Bernal’s employment at Tesla and reported Bernal’s separation notice did not contain any written details about why he’d been fired. Bernal told CNBC that managers had told him he “broke Tesla policy” and his channel was a “conflict of interest.”
Tesla did not immediately respond when contacted by Insider about Bernal’s termination.
CNBC reported that Bernal was first hired by Tesla in August 2020, and at the time of his dismissal he was working on the company’s self-driving tech as an “advanced driver assistance systems test operator.” He launched his YouTube channel, which currently has around 8,400 subscribers, in February 2021.
Bernal told CNBC he was always transparent with his managers about his YouTube channel.
He told CNBC a manager had discussed his channel with him in March 2021 after he posted a video which showed him having to intervene multiple times to avoid danger.
“A manager from my Autopilot team tried to dissuade me from posting any negative or critical content in the future that involved FSD Beta,” he told CNBC.
“They held a video conference with me but never put anything in writing,” he added.
Despite having the FSD on his own vehicle suspended, Bernal said in his most recent video that he was using a new Tesla, and thanked fans for offering their own vehicles for testing.
“I care about finding important safety bugs and I still want to help,” Bernal said in his video.