Once again, somebody has been spotted “driving” a Tesla on the highway while asleep at the wheel.
Tesla Autopilot is a remarkable feature. Of all the carmakers making autonomous driving tech, Autopilot is the most robust and effective semi-autonomous driving system out there. It handles most driving on the highway for you, including maintaining speed, staying in your lanes, and even driving to the off-ramp when you’ve reached your destination.
It can go much further than that, but most of the time we hear about Autopilot for its highway driving ability. Mostly because that’s when people die from using Autopilot.
Ever since its inception, Autopilot has been blamed for a slew of fatal crashes where the driver relied too heavily on Tesla’s automated driving feature. At issue is the fact that Autopilot is not bulletproof and requires the driver to take control when it encounters something it can’t handle. Without driver intervention, Autopilot turns off and then you’re left with a completely driverless car--often with fatal consequences.
After every accident, Tesla reminds everyone that Autopilot is not fully autonomous and that the driver has to have their hands on the wheel at all times. And after that, Tesla drivers continue to ignore the warnings.
Such as this Tesla driver, who appears to be driving a Model X while asleep. This video was taken on the Massachusetts Turnpike in Newton and then posted to Dakota Randall's Twitter account. It shows the Model X driver's head lolled completely forward while a passenger sleeps next to him.
Some guy literally asleep at the wheel on the Mass Pike (great place for it).— Dakota Randall (@DakRandall) September 8, 2019
Teslas are sick, I guess? pic.twitter.com/ARSpj1rbVn
The passenger being asleep is fine--they're not driving the car. But the driver being asleep? That's illegal in addition to being completely stupid.
According to the Associated Press, state police are aware of the video but we haven’t heard of any charges being brought against the driver. Probably because the video doesn’t show the car’s license plate. Otherwise, you better believe the cops would be at this guy’s door.
Tesla has once again released a statement, although this one tries to sow confusion by calling this an elaborate hoax.
"Many of these videos appear to be dangerous pranks or hoaxes. Our driver-monitoring system repeatedly reminds drivers to remain engaged and prohibits the use of Autopilot when warnings are ignored. At highway speeds, drivers typically receive warnings every 30 seconds or less if their hands aren't detected on the wheel. Tesla owners have driven billions of miles using Autopilot, and data from our quarterly Vehicle Safety Report indicates that drivers using Autopilot experience fewer accidents than those operating without assistance."
For the record, Mr. Randall has stated that he just recorded the video, and although it’s possible the driver was faking his complete lack of consciousness, it seems highly unlikely.