Sleeping Tesla Driver Using Autopilot Chased Down by German Police

Many of us may dream of the time where we can casually step into our vehicles, tell it where we want to go, and then take a power nap while the car safety ferries us to our destination. However, despite the incredible advancements in driver assist technologies, we are still quite a long way from that point. Unfortunately that doesn’t stop some people from trying to force their way into futuristic comfort in dangerous ways. As you may have guessed by now, another driver has abused Tesla’s Autopilot system.

Teslarati came across a press release from the Bavarian Police that details a traffic incident that no Hollywood writer could make up. According to the report, police noticed “something off” about a Tesla driving on the A70 highway. The officers pursued the Tesla to perform a routine traffic stop but the driver ignored the lights, horns, and other signals to pull over. Despite all signs to the contrary the driver wasn’t trying to ditch the po-po because of warrants, he was just sound asleep!

He was reclined with his eyes closed and hands completely off the steering wheel all while the Tesla was traveling at a speed of about 68 mph. The police followed the vehicle for 15 minutes before the driver finally woke up and pulled the car over for the officers. Once the driver was out of the car police described his behavior consistent with “drug-typical abnormalities.” When the officers inspected the car they found a steering wheel weight. For background, Tesla’s Autopilot system requires drivers to put their hands on the wheel at regular intervals to show that they are still engaged with the vehicle and can take control if need be. A steering wheel weight is designed to fool the Autopilot system into thinking that the driver’s hands are on the wheel.

There are a handful of stories and video scattered all over the internet of drivers using hacks or other defeat devices to circumvent Autopilot’s safety protocols so that they can sleep behind the wheel, read a book, or in some cases ride in the back with no one sitting in the driver’s seat.

For those wondering why someone would even need to employ a defeat device for a system called “Autopilot,” there is a simple explanation. Contrary to what some people may believe, Tesla’s Autopilot system and Full Self Driving (FSD) are not “Level 5” autonomous systems as defined by the SAE industry standard. The Autopilot system reaches Level 2 at best. However, critics argue that Tesla using naming conventions such as “Autopilot” and “Full Self Driving” suggests otherwise. That is why the state of California is attempting to crack down on Tesla’s branding of the software as it believes it is misleading to customers.

Trying to get around Tesla’s Autopilot safety features—or any vehicle’s safety features for that matter—is extremely dangerous and should never be attempted. Luckily in this instance, no one was hurt but it could have ended much worse. The driver in this situation will likely face pretty severe consequences for his actions. Moral of the story, if you’re too tired to drive, take a nap before getting behind the wheel, not after.

 

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