For The Last Time: You Cannot Use Tesla's Autopilot For Naptime

You’d think after all the times we’ve posted videos like these, we’d get sort of used to it by now. But, that’s not the case. Every time I see someone happily voyaging to Dreamsylvania while behind the wheel of a Tesla careening down a highway, I always marvel at how dumb this is. It’s not a fully-autonomous vehicle, dummies. That means you can’t fucking sleep in it while you’re supposed to be driving. Period.

Here’s the now-familiar video of profiles of people snoozing behind a Tesla wheel:

Advertisement

This time, it looks like both driver and passenger in that Model X have nodded off, and are riding in a car with a Level 2 semi-autonomous system that could decide it needs to cut off at literally any moment.

Road markings become unclear? System off. Unexpected construction equipment? System off. Puddle splashes mud onto a camera or radar sensor? System off. Any number of other things that happen every single day in the chaotic reality we live in? System off.

Now, yes, when this video was shot, they’re both asleep and the car hasn’t spiraled out of control yet. Perhaps it won’t! There are many people out there who seem to think this is proof of how utterly boss Teslas are:

Advertisement

Let’s just address this argument really quick: Mr. Tesla, nobody is saying that people falling asleep at the wheel never happens. But, as you said, when you fall asleep in a conventional, unassisted car, yeah, you either start to lose control and wake up in a panic to correct, or you have a nasty wreck, and these all happen almost immediately.

In a Tesla with Autopilot on, though, sure, you won’t necessarily have a disaster immediately, but the dangerous situation is prolonged dramatically, and the potential for a nasty wreck is still present, just extended out for miles and miles and minute after minute.

Advertisement

It’s not a better situation, because Tesla’s Autopilot is not a self-driving system.

Yes, I know Tesla doesn’t exactly make things clear, since it refers to Autopilot as “Full Self-Driving Capability” which is a pretty deceptive way to describe its capabilities.

Advertisement

This isn’t just a problem with Tesla—all Level 2 autonomous systems have the problem of doing just enough of the work that many people get lulled into thinking that the systems are capable of doing all of the work, which in turn lulls them into sleep.

Advertisement

But these systems are by no means capable of full self-driving. They assist a human driver, who needs to be ready to take over at any moment. There’s no way around that. The idea that these systems are safer to be asleep while driving in is completely negated by the fact that these systems fool people into thinking they’re safe to sleep in.

I seem to recall a book that talks about this very thing in Chapter 4?

Sleeping in a car you’re supposed to be driving is a way to get you or other people killed, no matter what driver-assist bullshit you have. Do not do it. Period.

Advertisement

I’ve reached out to Tesla for comment. If it gives me something other than repeating its usual Autopilot warnings:

“Before enabling Autopilot, the driver first needs to agree to “keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times” and to always “maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle”. Subsequently, every time the driver engages Autopilot, they are shown a visual reminder to “keep your hands on the wheel”...

Autopilot is intended for use with a fully attentive driver who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any time.”

Advertisement

...then I’ll be sure to update accordingly.

In the meantime, dummies, please, stay the fuck awake when you’re driving. If you want to impress me with your Tesla, let me play Missile Command on the dash screen, don’t fucking sleep and drive.

Share This Story

About the author

Jason Torchinsky

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus • Not-so-running: 1973 Reliant Scimitar, 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!)