A man was pulled over after police in Wisconsin discovered him sleeping in the driver’s seat of his Tesla while travelling at more than 80mph.
The Kenosha County sheriff’s office says that the car was in Autopilot mode as it drove along Interstate 94, with the driver initially failing to pull over when a sheriff’s deputy tried to perform a traffic stop.
The sheriff’s report says that the deputy noticed the driver ‘dozing’ at the wheel when they pulled alongside him, and states that they ‘followed behind it for approximately 2 miles at 82mph through Kenosha County’ as they tried to pull the car over, with the driver apparently asleep and blissfully unaware of the situation.
The driver eventually woke up and stopped the car after the deputy pulled alongside him a second time. Apparently he didn’t confess to being asleep, but admitted that he had been ‘tired’. Luckily for him, he got away with nothing more serious than a ticket for ‘inattentive driving’.
Local news station Fox6 Milwaukee says that the man was an Illinois resident, and first attracted the deputy’s attention after he ‘appeared to be asleep behind the wheel crossing over the Illinois/Wisconsin state line’.
In this instance, it was a case of no harm done, but Tesla’s Autopilot mode has been linked with several accidents in recent years. Most recently, a California man killed when his Tesla hit a parked trailer. It was revealed that he had posted videos on social media of his car in Autopilot mode shortly before the crash. NBC reports that authorities investigating another crash that killed two people in Texas in April said that there was no one in the driver’s seat at the time of the accident.
According to the Associated Press the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it has investigated four deaths in the US involving Tesla Autopilot mode, and 29 accidents involving Tesla vehicles.
Tesla currently only offers a semi-autonomous Autopilot system, with drivers still required to be alert and ready to take control of the vehicle at all times. It’s currently in the process of rolling out a ‘Full Self-Driving’ upgrade, although the system is currently under review by the California Department of Motor Vehicles.
The Verge reports that Tesla’s director of Autopilot software has told the California DMV that a comment made by Elon Musk earlier this year claiming Tesla’s Autopilot mode will drive with a ‘reliability in excess of human this year’, ‘does not match engineering reality’.
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