Tesla autopilot blamed as driver found asleep at 70mph

Tesla autopilot blamed as driver found asleep at 70mph

Officers with the California Highway Patrol invented a new maneuver to stop a Tesla Model S vehicle after its driver fell asleep at the wheel.

After a few miles attempting to wake the driver with lights and sirens, another police cruiser joined the pursuit and one of the police cars positioned itself in front of the Tesla, which caused it to slow down as part of normal Autopilot operation.

The formation reportedly travelled seven miles in seven minutes before the runaway Tesla finally came to a stop a short time after 3am local time on Friday.

The officers had to knock on the window to awaken the driver, Alexander Joseph Samek, 45. He was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and booked into the San Mateo County jail.

This might sound like a first for any law enforcement agency in the United States, but Palo Alto Online notes that the California Highway Patrol already encountered another drunk driver asleep at the wheel in a Tesla set on Autopilot.

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"We can not confirm at this time if the "driver assist" feature was activated but considering the vehicle's ability to slow to a stop when Samek was asleep, it appears the "driver assist" feature may have been active at the time", said the Highway Patrol.

On its website, Tesla says that all Tesla vehicles including Model 3, "have the hardware needed for full self-driving capability at a safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver".

Police spotted the electric auto 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.

Tesla's autopilot feature can change lanes and detect obstacles ahead, but is not created to drive the vehicle entirely independently.

However, autopilot is supposed to detect if the driver's hands are on the wheel or not and recent software updates warn drivers in as little as 30 seconds if it suspects they may not be paying attention.

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