Tesla autopilot blamed as driver found asleep at 70mph

Police use new maneuver to stop Tesla car on autopilot after driver falls asleep at wheel

It took California Highway Patrol about seven minutes and 10 kilometres to stop the Tesla, which was driving straight despite the driver being asleep, leading them to believe it was set on Autopilot.

The quick-thinking cops in Palo Alto made a decision to bring the weird situation to an end as quickly and safely as possible: they first established a moving perimeter far behind the Tesla to keep other drivers safe before one of the officers, who suspected that the vehicle's autopilot system might be engaged, drove in front of the auto and began gradually slowing down.

Police "positioned their patrol vehicle in front of the Tesla and began slowing directly in front of the Tesla in hopes that the "driver assist" feature had been activated and therefore the Tesla would slow to a stop as the patrol vehicle came to a stop", California Highway Patrol said.

While one officer took Samek to a nearby gas station to conduct a DUI investigation, the other drove the Tesla off the freeway. The vehicle is created to alert a driver if it does not detect hands on the wheel.

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The 45-year-old behind the wheel, Alexander Samek, was given a field sobriety test once pulled over, and then arrested for suspicion of drunk driving.

However, there have been several crashes involving Tesla's in Autopilot mode, and the company instructs drivers to keep their hands on the wheel at all times.

Tesla's autopilot feature can change lanes and detect obstacles ahead, but is not created to drive the vehicle entirely independently. The driver showed no response when the officers activated their emergency lights and sirens while directly behind the Tesla in an attempt to pull it over.

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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