Police Brings Tesla With Autopilot On to a Halt After Driver Passes Out

California Highway Patrol officers were able to successfully stop the car by overtaking it and gradually slowing down.
Loukia Papadopoulos

There's been a long-standing debate as to whether Tesla's autopilot saves lives or risks them. Last August, we brought you news of how the feature saved the life of a drunken driver in Norway. The man was seemingly unconscious, but the autopilot was able to bring the vehicle to a stop.

Now, a woman, who was at the time suspected of DUI, in Glendale, U.S., was also saved by Tesla's autopilot when she passed out behind the wheel, as reported by ABC 7.

The woman had indeed been driving under the influence and eventually passed out. Her husband who was driving behind her in a Volkswagen then called the police.

The California Highway Patrol (CHP) was then able to halt the Tesla  (that was going at slow speeds) near the 134 and 5 freeways after stopping directly in front of it. It seems the vehicle recognized that another vehicle was stopped in front of it and came to a halt.

ABC 7 later acquired radio transmissions of the incident — embedded below — where a dispatcher is heard saying: "The reporting party is advising that his wife is unconscious in a Tesla. The vehicle is driving itself.

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"It ended up TC'ing into the right shoulder wall, and, uh, still continuing," the dispatcher added. TC is shorthand for a traffic collision.

Once the Tesla was stopped, CHP officers woke up the driver, identified as Karla Villanueva, 31, and arrested her on suspicion of DUI. She was booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center Jail.

This was clearly a case of Tesla's autopilot saving a life. Had the woman passed out in any other car, the end result would have been a collision long before CHP could step in to do anything.

Although Tesla advises that Autopilot should never be used on its own, we are seeing increasing cases where it can be indeed handled in this fashion. Still, to be safe, it is best to never lose vigilance when driving.

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