Tesla Driver Falls Asleep, Autopilot Keeps Driving, Police Use Autopilot to Stop It

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

From the L.A. Times (Doug Smith):

[Seeing that the driver was asleep, and d]educing that the Tesla Model S was [likely] running on Autopilot, the officers called for backup and prepared to employ a stratagem.

After a second unit caught up to block any traffic coming from behind, the original car sped up to get in front of the Tesla, then gradually slowed to a stop.

The cameras and computer algorithms of the vehicle's self-driving system did their job, slowing to avoid ramming the officer's car.

Several miles from the first contact, the Tesla slowed to a full stop ….

Makes sense.

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22 responses to “Tesla Driver Falls Asleep, Autopilot Keeps Driving, Police Use Autopilot to Stop It

  1. Disappointing to find that no one connected with the story is named “Otto”.

    1. Little known fact, the first version of the Tesla autopilot had to be manually inflated….

      1. manually?

        1. Surely you can’t be serious.

          1. Seriously Shirley?

          2. I am serious and don’t call me Shirley.

    2. No Otto-pilot allowed. I’m pretty sure the guy was named Manuel, so he was driving a Manuel transmission. [rimshot]

  2. And disappointing it wasn’t a Florida man.

  3. Not yet reported, the autopilot was shot for resisting arrest.

    1. And…qualified immunity!!!

  4. I previously read that it pulled to the side of the road, likely because he wasn’t giving inputs.

    I wonder which one is correct.

    1. What I read was that absent driver input, the Tesla autopilot is programed to activate the hazard lights (four way flashers) and stop in lane, not pull over.

  5. So…how can he be operating a vehicle under the influence if he was asleep and the autopilot was in charge?

    1. Because he’s the vehicles operator. If he’d fallen asleep in a car without autopilot, he would have crashed instead. In either scenario, he’s the one responsible for what happens.

  6. What are/were the legal ramifications for sleeping beauty?

    1. DUI, I doubt it’s legally any different from any other DUI

      1. If he just passed out from overwork or exhaustion, then maybe reckless driving. However, if he was intoxicated, that’s what they’d hit him with.

  7. Open the pod bay doors please Hal.

  8. I’m happy they didn’t employ spike strips or run him off the road.

    1. Good outcome: problem solved without use of force. Most police I know prefer it that way.

      I have known a couple tho’ who would’ve used the non-compliance to flashing light as an excuse to ram the vehicle or shoot the tires (or the driver).

      Down the way on this blog, Short Circuit: “Arkansas state trooper activates his lights; woman driving with her daughter (a minor) declines to pull over in the dark, unlit area but does slow down to 35 (in a 55). After less than a minute, the trooper rams the woman’s car; she crashes into a cement culvert.”

      1. I wonder if robo drivers keep an escape route in mind, the way human drivers are supposed to. Hence it might move to the next lane if some idiot is careening towards them.

  9. The car should be charged and confiscated according to the due process of civil asset forfeiture.

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