Tesla autopilot blamed as driver found asleep at 70mph

Tesla travels 7 miles with driver asleep at the wheel cops forced to take emergency action

All in all, it took about seven miles and seven minutes for the Tesla to come to a stop in the right hand lane.

This might sound like a first for any law enforcement agency in the United States, but Palo Alto Online notes that the California Highway Patrol already encountered another drunk driver asleep at the wheel in a Tesla set on Autopilot. He has been identified as Alexander Samek of Los Altos, 45, who happens to be a member of the Los Altos Planning Commission.

It was then that the officers, whose names have not been released, invented what the CHP says is a new maneuver in highway traffic control.

The officers slowed the vehicle down after running a traffic break, with an officer behind Samek turning on emergency lights before driving across all lanes of the highway, in an S-shaped path, to slow traffic down behind the Tesla, Montiel said. He was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence.

A driver found passed out at the wheel of his Tesla while travelling at 70mph may have been using the car's autopilot.

"We can not confirm at this time if the "driver assist" feature was activated but considering the vehicle's ability to slow to a stop when Samek was asleep, it appears the "driver assist" feature may have been active at the time", said the Highway Patrol. As this was above the speed limit, officers pulled up alongside the auto and noticed that Samek was allegedly asleep, leading them to assume it was in autopilot mode.

Tesla drivers must keep their hands on the wheel when the auto is on Autopilot mode.

Tesla's autopilot feature can change lanes and detect obstacles ahead, but is not created to drive the auto entirely independently.

Tesla recently celebrated one billion miles travelled by its vehicles in autopilot mode. If the driver provides no response at all, the vehicle is supposed to start slowing down on its own within a few minutes, before coming to a complete stop and turning on its hazard lights.

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