Tesla drove 7 miles using Autopilot as driver allegedly slept drunk behind the wheel

midian182

TechSpot Editor
Staff member

Police spotted the gray Model S belonging to Alexander Samek, the chair of the Los Altos Planning Commission, doing 70 mph on Highway 101 early Friday. As this was above the speed limit, officers pulled up alongside the car and noticed that Samek was allegedly asleep, leading them to assume it was in autopilot mode.

California Highway Patrol Public Information Officer Art Montiel said cops moved behind Samek’s vehicle and tried to get him to pull over by turning on their lights and sirens, but he was “unresponsive.”

The Tesla eventually came to a stop after another police car positioned itself in front of the vehicle and started slowing down. According to a press release, it still took a while for officers to wake Samek, who was then taken to a nearby gas station where he failed a sobriety test and was arrested over a suspected DUI.

The Autopilot system in Tesla vehicles alerts drivers if it detects they’re not holding the wheel. It eventually slows the car down and stops it if the warnings are ignored. It’s assumed the Model S in this incident managed to travel 7 miles because Samek had been putting pressure on the wheel as he slept.

Tesla has long emphasized that Autopilot does not make a vehicle fully autonomous, but is designed for use on highways that have a center divider and clear lane markings.

There have been several accidents over the years, some resulting in driver deaths, in which Autopilot was activated. But Tesla notes that its vehicles have traveled a total of one billion miles with Autopilot assistance.

Some owners continue to leave the driver’s seat after the feature is enabled, including a UK man who was caught on video sitting in the passenger seat while his Tesla did the driving.

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kira setsu

TS Addict
And this is surprising why?

this is the future people, whats the point in this tech if it isnt used for exactly moments like these, call it autopilot and you're begging for this type of behavior. as soon as you give people any opening they will abuse it so might as well design the feature around human carelessness.
 
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Ralloh

TS Rookie
People's driving skills have been going down hill for decades. These autonomous cars are accelerating this. Why learn safe driving if the car will do it for you? Sad.
 
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MannerMauler

TS Addict
Just think, If he didn't have the autopilot feature in his car, he may have got in the car and drove home anyway. in which case, he would be dead now most likely. Or he could have killed someone else.
Given the ending of the majority of these stories, he would've gotten into an accident, decimate both cars, kill or cripple someone, and walk away with a few scratches. One lady in a town near me got hit by a guy who completely totaled the car, sending the engine like fifty feet. She was crippled with severe spinal damage. He walked off with a few scratches. Handcuffs too. https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/article156065304.html
 
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senketsu

The two sides make it difficult. On the one hand, this guy killed no one and police were able to stop him safely because of Autopilot, on the other hand you have people, like the guy in the video who climbs into the passenger seat and lets Autopilot take over.
Which side will win (meaning safety) I'm not sure just yet because both of these people shouldn't be allowed to drive.
 

Tom W

TS Rookie
And this is surprising why?

this is the future people, whats the point in this tech if it isnt used for exactly moments like these, call it autopilot and you're begging for this type of behavior. as soon as you give people any opening they will abuse it so might as well design the feature around human carelessness.

In my world of building automated production machines, we call it "***** proofing".
 
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Uncle Al

TS Evangelist
"Not what the feature was meant for"

Seriously? That is EXACTLY what the feature is made for and a few other things too! If it works and prevents an avoidable accident and the possible tragedy that goes with it, I'd say it was a success ......
 

ShagnWagn

TS Evangelist
So I guess if this car car slammed him into a lane divider and killed him like these have done others, then it wouldn't have mattered?

The comments here say that him being drunk would have killed someone. Ask that lady that got run over while trying to cross the street in front of one. Oh, wait... Hence, these self-wrecking cars basically drunk drivers.

The companies are the ones who program and design these, hence the companies are liable for putting drunk drivers (autonomous cars) on the streets.
 
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cliffordcooley

TS Redneck
"But my client was sleeping, not driving, your Honor!"
I was charged once while sleeping off a drunken spell on a parking lot. All because the keys were in the ignition. If I had taken the keys and threw them in the floor, I would not have been charged.

It is my opinion that if you are going to be a passenger. Don't climb in behind the wheel [assuming there is a wheel]. Anyone sitting behind the wheel drunk [even in a fully autonomous vehicle] should be charged with driving drunk. Because then they are in a position to take control at any time.
 

Ravey

TS Addict
The two sides make it difficult. On the one hand, this guy killed no one and police were able to stop him safely because of Autopilot, on the other hand you have people, like the guy in the video who climbs into the passenger seat and lets Autopilot take over.
Which side will win (meaning safety) I'm not sure just yet because both of these people shouldn't be allowed to drive.
You even have the guy that killed himself because he refused to take the wheel when the autnav was warning him to do so. resulting in a head on collision with another vehicle.
 

Ravey

TS Addict
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MaXtor

TS Evangelist
Platinum
LOL, the statistics do not support this claim in the slightest. Motor vehicle deaths are about 60% lower now than they were in the 1970s.
That doesn't necessarily equate to driving skills being improved... cars are now designed to absorb the energy of an impact, rather than a 1970s car that would transfer all the energy of an impact to the person(s) in the vehicle (equating to a drastically higher chance of death). I would also guess seat belt laws and other safety regulations have helped lower that statistic as well.

Correct me if you find research to the contrary, but I'd agree with Ralloh and argue that driving skills have diminished year over year since the introduction of mobile phones, followed by mobile texting, and of course smartphones (which also improve year over year, giving drivers more reasons to look away from the road).
 
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Brahman05

TS Member
This is more a difference in cultural awareness, but an Indian man once caused a major accident when he went to the U.S., rented an RV, put it on cruise control, and then went in back to get somthing to drink. This was waaaaaaay before the idea of autonomous vehicles took hold.
 

MaXtor

TS Evangelist
Platinum
This is more a difference in cultural awareness, but an Indian man once caused a major accident when he went to the U.S., rented an RV, put it on cruise control, and then went in back to get somthing to drink. This was waaaaaaay before the idea of autonomous vehicles took hold.
That's an old urban legend, "Indian man" is a new addition. I don't usually cite Snopes due to their blatant liberal bias and agenda, but this story isn't political: https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/cruise-uncontrol/