Allegedly drunk driver may have used Tesla’s Autopilot to try to get home
A man in California has been caught allegedly using the Autopilot semi-autonomous mode on his Tesla Model S to drive home drunk, or asleep.
Police spotted the electric car at 3:30 am last Friday cruising southbound on Highway 101 at around 112 km/h, its driver fast asleep at the wheel, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.
It took California Highway Patrol about seven minutes and 10 kilometres to stop the Tesla, which was driving straight despite the driver being asleep, leading them to believe it was set on Autopilot.
To stop the vehicle, police had to clear all the traffic away from the Tesla using one squad car, while another drove in front of the Model S and gradually started to slow down until coming to a complete stop.
The officers then walked up to the vehicle and tapped on the window, verbally commanding the driver to wake up.
The 45-year-old behind the wheel, Alexander Samek, was given a field sobriety test once pulled over, and then arrested for suspicion of drunk driving.
Tesla’s Autopilot technology is not currently designed or approved to be a fully autonomous system, and the company does not recommend or endorse using it in this manner.
Currently, Autopilot can control speed, steering, changing lanes, and parking, but it still requires a driver to be fully attentive and to be able to take over control at any time. It’s designed to gradually slow, pull over and stop if the driver’s hands are not detected on the steering wheel.
What’s curious is how the Autopilot stayed activated for as long as it did in this case; Tesla CEO Elon Musk says the company is looking into the specifics of this situation.