Tesla driver who fell asleep went 15 minutes on Autopilot, triggered police officers

The driver got his license suspended.
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A Tesla on autopilot
A Tesla on autopilot

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A driver in Germany had his license revoked after turning on his Tesla's Autopilot and sleeping at the wheel, which led to a police chase.

According to a release from the Bavarian police, on December 29 at around noon local time, officers saw a Tesla departing Bamberg, Germany, and traveling down Autobahn 70 toward Bayreuth.

Officers attempted to pull over the Tesla, but it refused. Officials say that the car was moving at about 70 mph and did not slow down or accelerate during the attempted traffic stop.

As they drove down the Autobahn, the Tesla "maintained the same distance as the patrol car in front," according to authorities.

Officers came up next to the Tesla's driver-side window and observed the driver, only identified as a 45-year-old male, sitting back in his seat with his hands off the wheel and his eyes closed.

"This strengthened the suspicion that he had left the controls to the autopilot and had fallen asleep," according to investigators.

After 15 minutes of the pursuit, the driver finally awoke and complied with the police's orders to stop.

According to further research, the driver had put a "so-called steering wheel weight in the footwell" of the driver's side.

According to the news release, the device pretends that your hand is on the steering wheel to deceive the vehicle's safety system.

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Fully autonomous driving is prohibited for private car drivers in Germany, who must always be in control of their vehicles.

German legislators stated in May last year that they had approved new regulations to provide the groundwork for autonomous vehicles in the future, including supporting driverless shuttle buses.

Additionally, according to the police, the driver was under the influence of drugs.

The driver's license has been suspended pending a formal hearing while a criminal investigation into the endangerment of traffic is ongoing.

What is autonomous driving?

Typically, the term "autonomous driving" refers to self-driving cars or other transportation systems that operate with varying levels of assistance from a human driver, including none.

Tesla claims that its cutting-edge driver assistance system, Autopilot, improves comfort and safety while operating a vehicle. Autopilot reduces your overall workload as a driver when used appropriately. Eight exterior cameras and advanced visual processing are included in every new Tesla vehicle to give an extra security measure. 

Full Self-Driving Capability, Enhanced Autopilot, and Autopilot are all designed to be used by vigilant drivers who keep their hands on the wheel and are ready to take control at any time. Although these characteristics are intended to develop in capability over time, the currently active ones do not render the vehicle autonomous.

Every new Tesla comes with Autopilot as standard equipment, depending on when the car was made. 

Two Autopilot packages are available for customers who received their vehicles without Autopilot: Full self-driving capability and improved Autopilot.

But unfortunately, none of the Tesla models has autonomous driving capabilities. Elon Musk stated, "I'm extremely confident that level 5 or essentially complete autonomy will happen, and I think will happen very quickly." at the opening of Shanghai's annual World Artificial Intelligence Conference in China in 2020. He further added, "I remain confident that we will have the basic functionality for level 5 autonomy complete this year."

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