Tesla autopilot aims to be an auxiliary feature for alert drivers to increase their driving enjoyment and add a layer of vehicle safety. However, stories about irresponsible users do appear in the news cycle sometimes, this time from the owner of the 2019 Model S in Alberta, Canada. On Thursday, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) reported the arrest and suspension of the license and court summons of a young driver from British Columbia after using Tesla’s autopilot during sleep. The all-electric sedan reached more than 90 mph before stopping during the crash on July 9, 2020.
“The RCMP Police in Alberta received a complaint about a car speeding up on Highway 2 near #Ponoka. The car appeared to be self-driving, traveling at over 140 km / h with the front two seats fully tilted and the passengers appeared to be asleep,” the RCMP account explained Official Twitter. “The driver received a dangerous driving charge and a summons to the court.”
Alberta RCMP Police received a complaint about a vehicle speeding on Highway 2 near #Bonuca. The car appeared to be self-driving, traveling at over 140 km / h with the two front seats fully tilted and the occupants appeared to be asleep. The driver received a dangerous driving charge and a summons to the court pic.twitter.com/tr0RohJDH1
RCMP Alberta (RCMPAlberta) 17th September 2020
The Tesla Model S was also said to have spontaneously accelerated from about 87 mph to about 93 mph when it approached a police car. There were no injuries in the accident.
In a more detailed report on the RCMP website, it was noted that the 20-year-old had received a 24-hour suspension due to fatigue after being stopped. Additionally, a December driver’s court date has been set to handle the charges. “Although new vehicle manufacturers have put in place safeguards to prevent drivers from taking advantage of new vehicle safety systems, these systems are merely complementary safety systems,” said Supervisor Gary Graham of RCMP Alberta Traffic Services in the RCMP report. “They are not self-driving systems, they still have the responsibility of driving.”
Some responses to the RCMP’s Twitter post indicated that the Tesla Model S occupants were most likely deceiving spectators and the police, but the lack of awareness of the road during the event remains dangerous regardless of intent. It also explicitly clashes with the Tesla user guide along with frequent and pressing reminders that the feature is not intended to operate without human supervision at this time. As any autopilot user can attest, the vehicles will remind drivers to remain alert and put their hands on the steering wheel if their presence is not detected for a few seconds, which leads to escalating visual and audible warnings, and ultimately preventing the driver from exiting the feature for the duration of the flight if It was frequently ignored.
However, the ability to manipulate Tesla’s autopilot system is being tapped despite warnings against such action, and the electric car maker has been heavily criticized for this. For example, US Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts demanded last December that the company disable the feature until its “shortcomings” are addressed.
“Obviously, the autopilot cannot be allowed to replace drivers on our roads.” Marky wrote on Twitter: “This technology will continue to cause damage until Tesla takes action to fix its faulty system and make sure the drivers care.” That’s why I sent a message asking Tesla to take action to protect the public. His comments came in response to an accident in which a Tesla car collided with a police car. Reports stated that the driver was examining his dog in the back seat at the time of the collision.
For those who need any help understanding the safety precautions required while using autopilot, or maybe a little laugh, Teslarate has put something together for the occasion: “Tesla’s Traveling Traveler Guide to Get the Most Out of the Autopilot Experience.”