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A Tesla driver was caught sleeping on Autopilot at high speed, police are charging him criminally

A Tesla driver was caught sleeping on Autopilot with their seat “fully reclined” at high speed, according to police who criminally charged the driver.

Alberta RCMP (Canada federal police) reported on a strange incident involving a Tesla vehicle on Autopilot.

“Alberta RCMP received a complaint of a car speeding on Highway 2 near Ponoka. The car appeared to be self-driving, traveling over 140 km/h with both front seats completely reclined and occupants appeared to be asleep.”

With this report, they shared the picture of a Tesla Model S vehicle on Twitter:

Tesla Autopilot is not a “self-driving” system but a suite of driver assist features.

While it can technically drive autonomously on highways without driver interventions, Tesla asks drivers to keep their hands on the wheel and to pay attention at all times.

The automaker also implemented a system that requires drivers to frequently apply light torque to the steering wheel in order for Autopilot to stay active.

Some Tesla drivers have been getting around the system by attaching a weight to the steering wheel — a practice considered dangerous by US regulators (and anyone with half a mind).

In this incident, the police reported some strange behaviors from the vehicle, which was presumably on Autopilot:

“After the responding Officer activated emergency lights on their vehicle, the Tesla automatically began to accelerate. The Officer was able to obtain radar readings on the vehicle, confirming that it had automatically accelerated up to exactly 150 km/h.”

The police said that the vehicle eventually stopped, and they gave the driver a speeding ticket.

Later, they decided to also charge the driver for dangerous driving under the criminal code.

Electrek’s Take

This is not the first time we’ve heard of people sleeping inside their vehicles on Autopilot. However, this report is really strange.

Let me start by saying that using Autopilot at such high speed is dangerous to start with. If you are not paying attention, reclining your seat, and going to sleep, I think you should certainly be criminally charged.

The police seems to suggest that the car accelerated on its own after they activated their emergency lights.

Tesla has a limit of 90 mph — 150 km/h on Autopilot.

The driver might have set that speed, which again is crazy, and there might have been a lead car that moved out of the way — enabling the Tesla to accelerate.

But that’s all speculation.

Either way, that was a dangerous use of Autopilot. I’m glad the police are discouraging it with severe charges to the driver.

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