Surely there are far more relaxing places to get some shut-eye.
A 20-year-old Tesla driver in Canada was slapped with reckless driving charges this week after being caught sound asleep behind the wheel — while going 93 miles per hour on his car’s infamous autopilot function.
Police in Alberta received calls on July 9 from shocked and disturbed drivers who reported seeing a 2019 Tesla Model S zooming down the highway, near the town of Ponoka, in which no driver appeared to be present. Both front seats were apparently reclined.
Officers have just now charged the unnamed driver for speeding and dangerous driving, and suspended their license for 24 hours. A court date has been set for December.
“Nobody was looking out the windshield to see where the car was going,” Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sgt. Darri Turnbull told CBC News.
In an official statement, the Alberta law enforcement said, “We received a complaint of a car speeding on Highway 2 near Ponoka. The car appeared to be self-driving, traveling over 140 kmh with both front seats completely reclined and occupants appeared to be asleep.”
They added, “The driver received a dangerous driving charge and summons for court.”
Police also said the vehicle appeared to accelerate, from 140 kmh to 150 kmh, as they made their pursuit.
Tesla’s autopilot function is designed to steer, accelerate and brake on the driver’s behalf, but the carmaker insists on their website that these features “[do] not make the vehicle autonomous.” Motorists are urged to remain alert and keep their hands on the wheel.
When enabling autopilot in a Tesla, drivers are required to agree to terms such as “keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times” and “maintain control and responsibility for your car.”
“Once engaged, if insufficient torque is applied, autopilot will also deliver an escalating series of visual and audio warnings, reminding you to place your hands on the wheel … If you repeatedly ignore these warnings, you will be locked out from using autopilot during that trip,” the Tesla website claims.
There are also several features that may impair autopilot function, such as inclement weather, bright lights and road obstructions.
“I’ve been in policing for over 23 years,” said Sgt. Turnbull, “and the majority of that in traffic law enforcement, and I’m speechless. I’ve never, ever seen anything like this before but, of course, the technology wasn’t there.”
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