Driver Videoed Sleeping While Tesla Drives on Autopilot


The promise of self-driving cars may still seem like science fiction to many, so it may come as a surprise that such cars are not only already reality but can actually be found on today’s roads.  Perhaps the best evidence of this fact is recently released video of a driver in a Tesla electric car sleeping as his car drives on autopilot in a traffic jam.

According to car’s manufacturer, to date Tesla drivers have driven over 100 million miles using the cars’ automatic driving features.  The company is quick to point out that while its autopilot programming is the most technologically advanced available to the average driver, it is nonetheless not intended to be used to turn the automobiles into fully self-driving vehicles.

The company insists that drivers should keep their hands on the steering wheel while using the cars’ autonomous feature, but that did not stop the driver in question from not only taking his hands off the wheel, but actually leaning back for a snooze.  In order to prevent people from overly relying on the automatic driving features, Tesla says that the system requires the driver to make contact with the steering wheel when driving conditions are considered by the car to be unsafe.  If the driver fails to make contact with the steering wheel at first the car will attempt to stimulate him with visual and auditory signals. If the driver still does not take control, the car will slow down and eventually turn on the hazard lights and stop.

There are numerous legal considerations to be taken into account when considering what happens when an accident is caused by a vehicle which is the under the guidance of its automatic system.  Though there have been no documented cases in the United States as of now, the legal responsibility of car manufacturers which decide to include automatic pilot driving systems in their cars is likely to be tested the moment any such a car is engaged in a serious auto accident while under autopilot.

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