Here's Another Dummy Apparently Sleeping at the Wheel of a Tesla on the Highway

You may recall back in late January we wrote about a guy sawing logs while his Tesla Model X handled the driving, at least as best it could, since, remember, it’s just a Level 2 semi-autonomous system and is in no way qualified to be trusted to drive a car without some human oversight. This was a bad idea. And it’s still a bad idea, even for this other sleepy dumbass spotted (apparently) snoozing in his Tesla Model S on a California highway.

The seemingly unconscious driver was spotted by Seth Blake, a Floridian who was in California with his band, driving from Anaheim to Los Angeles, and who got his fiancée to record this video of what looked a hell of a lot like a sleeping Tesla:

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Blake noted that the man’s hand was resting on the steering wheel while he slept, which appears to be enough to fool Tesla’s hands-on-the-wheel Autopilot safeguard. Other methods of defeating Tesla’s attempts at a failsafe to keep people paying attention while their Autopilot semi-autonomous system is on include terrible products or even just an orange.

Blake also mentioned that the guy did wake briefly, look around a bit, then returned back to sleep. So, we know he’s not dead. Just a dangerous idiot.

Look, it seems insane that this has to be repeated, but Teslas are not self-driving cars! The Autopilot system does a good job in its very limited context of basic highway driving, but there’s so many unpredictable situations that can happen on the road that the system is in no way capable of handling. That’s why you’re supposed to be alert and ready to take over for any Level 2 system, and why I don’t like any of them, personally.

Of course there’s been wrecks with Teslas on Autopilot, and in all of them the question of whether the driver was paying attention has been raised.

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Sure, a Tesla on Autopilot with a sleeping driver can handle itself better than a normal car with a sleeping driver, but that’s only because a human-driven car with a human at the wheel will crash almost immediately. A semi-Autonomous Tesla with a sleeper at the wheel can careen on for a long time, until it finds itself in a situation it’s not capable of responding to, and then disaster can strike, possibly in a far worse location.

I suspect this won’t be the last time we see this, by far. I reached out to Tesla and will update if I hear back, but other outlets have reported that Tesla refused to comment on the video, but do mention that Tesla’s website does clearly state

“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.”

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Even so, Tesla may want to consider some more anti-slumber safeguards. Less comfortable seats? Random full-volume blasts from the radio every 30 seconds when Autopilot is engaged?

It’s just stupid. Don’t be an idiot like this guy. You’re still fucking driving, sleepymoron, and that means at the very least you should stay awake. This is how people get killed, just so you can have an extra hour of time in dreamland, where you’re a pirate and not an irresponsible idiot.

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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!)