Thankfully, Tesla Autopilot managed okay and no one was hurt.
It doesn't matter how many times we say it. People will still use Tesla Autopilot as it's not intended to be used, or even inappropriately. This is just one of many stories about drunk drivers using the technology in an attempt to get home safely. Another recent story talked about a couple engaging in "relations" while their Tesla was driving.
One day, hopefully in the near future, cars may be able to drive themselves without human intervention. When that day comes, we can have some peace of mind that people's stupidity like drunk driving, or texting or watching movies, may not lead to catastrophic conclusions. In addition, there are many elderly people and young drivers on the road that may make unsafe choices. Hopefully, once this tech is at a whole new level, it will provide a failsafe for all of the above.
In the meantime, if you're not paying attention to the road, or you're drunk or asleep, you're going to end up getting busted and having your license suspended or revoked. In this recent case, a Tesla driver in the Netherlands was drunk and asleep at the wheel while Tesla Autopilot controlled the car.
Fortunately, the authorities woke him up and nothing terrible happened. The police noticed the vehicle driving rather slowly behind a truck. There was not really any other traffic on the road, so the situation seemed weird. According to the police statement first reported by Electrek (translated from Dutch):
“We could already see on the news last week that there are several ways to use the Tesla when it runs autonomously. Last night, we saw a Tesla riding close to its predecessor on the A27 at Eemnes. When we came alongside, the driver appeared to have fallen asleep.
A tracking mark was given but the driver, a 50-year-old man from Meppel, did not notice this and the Tesla even began to overtake us when we lowered the speed and wanted to leave the highway. Eventually the man was woken up with the help of the siren. It also appeared to be under the influence of alcohol (340ug / l). His driving license was collected on the basis of Article 5 of the Road Traffic Act.”
Interestingly, the police explained that the driver was sleeping with his hands on the wheel. While we will never know for sure, this may have been just enough to keep the system engaged. What we do know is that people have been able to beat Autopilot's "hands-on" system in one way or another. We hope Tesla will be able to release a driver attention monitor in the future so that it becomes more difficult for owners to get away with such tactics.