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Police pull over a Model S on Autopilot and discover the driver is drunk and asleep

Published Dec 3rd, 2018 2:09PM EST
Tesla Autopilot

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Tesla’s Autopilot feature isn’t designed to whisk drivers to and fro while they’re sleeping, even though Elon Musk claims that that’s what the future of self-driving cars looks like. As it stands now, Tesla has enacted a number of security measures around its Autopilot feature to prevent abuse. Indeed, when the feature first launched a few year ago, there were quite a few outlandish videos highlighting people intent on pushing the feature to the limit. In one particularly wild clip, a man actually went and sat in the backseat of his Tesla while his car continued driving.

In a story that’s just as bizarre, a man in Los Altos, California was arrested late last week after he was found to be fast asleep — and drunk — in a Tesla Model S that was cruising along the highway at 70 MPH. While the incident makes for an amusing story at first, it’s something of a miracle that no one got hurt. On another note, the incident does speak to the increasing effectiveness of Tesla’s Autopilot feature.

Originally brought to light via the Palo Alto Online, the report notes that the officer noticed the Tesla in question driving above the speed limit and decided to pull up alongside him to take a closer look.

The officer pulled up next to the car and noticed that Samek “appeared to be asleep at the wheel,” he said. The officer pulled behind the Tesla and attempted to pull Samek over, using the patrol car’s lights and sirens, but Samek was “unresponsive,” Montiel said.

Suspecting the Tesla might be on driver assist, the officer pulled in front of the car and started slowing down, causing the Tesla to slow down as well, Montiel said.

That’s certainly some quick thinking on the officer’s part. The report goes on to state that it took a bit of time to wake the driver up, which seems to imply that he was incredibly drunk at the time. Not surprisingly he subsequently failed a field sobriety test after he did finally wake up.

Interestingly enough, this isn’t the first instance we’ve seen of a Tesla on Autopilot taking care of things while the driver is asleep. Earlier this year, Zedd — a famous record producer and DJ — thanked Tesla after the car’s Autopilot feature helped wake him up after falling asleep on the road.

“There’s lots of “bad” news about Teslas w/ autopilot crashing,” Zedd wrote this past June. “Just to show the other side too: I once fell asleep driving home late at night on the highway (w/ autopilot on) and got woken up by it beeping + turning off music to wake me up. Would have prob been dead without it.”

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.