The Tesla autopilot is designed to be an auxiliary function for warning drivers to increase their driving pleasure and add a layer of vehicle safety. However, stories of irresponsible users fall into the news cycle sometimes, this time by the owner of the 2019 Model S in Alberta, Canada. On Thursday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) announced the arrest, suspension of a license and the summoning of a young driver from British Columbia after using a Tesla autopilot while sleeping. The all-electric sedan reached over 90 miles per hour before stopping in the July 9, 2020 accident.
“Alberta RCMP received a complaint for speeding on a car on Hwy 2 near #Ponoka. The car looked self-driving, traveling over 1
Alberta RCMP received a complaint for speeding on a car on Hwy 2 near #Ponoka. The car looked self-driving, traveling over 140 km / h, with the two front seats fully tilted and the passengers looking asleep. The driver received a fee for dangerous driving and a summons to court pic.twitter.com/tr0RohJDH1
– RCMP Alberta (@RCMPAlberta) 17 September 2020
The Tesla Model S is also believed to have automatically accelerated from about 87 mph to about 93 mph when approached by a police vehicle. No one was injured during the incident.
A more detailed report on the RCMP website noted that the 20-year-old driver received a 24-hour suspension of his fatigue license after being stopped. In addition, the date of the driver’s court is set in December to meet the fees. “Although new vehicle manufacturers have put in place safeguards to prevent drivers from taking advantage of new vehicle safety systems, these systems are just that – additional safety systems,” RCMP chief Gary Graham said in a report. from Alberta RCMP Traffic Services. “They are not self-governing systems, they still come with the responsibility to drive.”
Some responses to RCMP’s Twitter post suggest that the two occupants of the Tesla Model S may have been pulling on spectators and police, but the lack of road awareness during the event is still dangerous, regardless of intent. It also explicitly contradicts the Tesla User’s Guide, along with frequent and persistent reminders that the feature is not currently designed to function without human supervision. As any autopilot user can attest, vehicles will remind drivers to stay alert and put their hands behind the wheel if their presence is not detected for a few seconds, escalating visual and audible warnings and ultimately blocking the driver from the the duration of the journey, if repeatedly ignored.
However, Tesla’s ability to manipulate the Autopilot system is being taken advantage of, despite warnings against such actions, and has severely criticized the carmaker. For example, last December, Democratic Sen. Ed Markie of Massachusetts asked the company to deactivate the function until its “flaws” were eliminated.
“Obviously, autopilot cannot be allowed to replace drivers on our roads. “This technology will continue to cause harm until Tesla takes action to repair its faulty system and make sure drivers are paying attention,” Markie wrote on Twitter. “That’s why I sent a letter asking Tesla to take action to protect the public.” His comments came in response to an incident in which Tesla crashed into a police car. The driver reportedly checked his dog in the back seat during the collision.
For those who need any help understanding the safety precautions needed while using autopilot, or maybe a little laugh, Teslarati has prepared something for the occasion: “Tesla Hitchhiking Guide to get the most out of your autopilot experience.