Driver sleeping behind Tesla Model s Autopilot
Brian Jenkins's picture

Tesla Model S Autopilot Is Amazing, But I Would Never Sleep Behind The Wheel

Autopilot is a fantastic drivers assistance in a Tesla vehicle. I have AutoPilot in both my Tesla Model S and Model 3 and use all the time. In my opinion, it truly is a life saver. But sometimes people abuse what they have though.

Autopilot is designed to help you out driving on the highway for now. With eight cameras and 12 sensors all around the car, it can see a 360-degree view of what’s around you at all times. That is how Autopilot stays in the lane, slows down for slower cars, changes lanes and avoids cars. But you as a driver need to pay attention.

As human drivers, we only have two cameras on our face that face the same direction. So we need the mirrors to see what is around us. But we only see one side at a time.

How Tesla AutoPilot Warns

Right now Tesla requires the driver to keep one hand on the wheel when driving. If the car doesn’t detect the hand for more than 45 seconds a series of warnings will happen in the car. First, a light indicator on the screen. If you ignore it, then it will flash and the car will beep to get your attention. This will continue until the car thinks that something terrible has happened to you. Once that happens the car will put the hazards on and come to a complete stop on the road staying in the lane it was in. It is still beeping the whole time. In the future, the car will pull over to the side of the road and call 911 for you. Here are some other articles about Autopilot: the future is now and AutoPilot deaths. I have done a video on what happens during this too.

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But many people have gotten too comfortable with Autopilot and have been abusing it. In the past few months, many people have been spotted and filmed asleep at the wheel as the car is driving them down the highway. People are either sleeping with their hand on the steering wheel or putting a weight on the wheel. Both are bad but the weight is illegal. Autopilot is not Full Self Driving (FSD).

When the anti-Pro-Tesla websites get a hold of these videos and pictures, they blame Tesla. But is Tesla to blame here? Autopilot is designed to nag you when you aren’t paying attention, but if you trick the system, shouldn’t that be the fault of the driver? These same people say the car will go out of control and hit someone and possibly kill them. They say these things to put fear into the publics eyes of Tesla because Tesla is disrupting the car business.

Tesla May Ensure People Are Paying Attention When Autopilot Enabled

Could Tesla change how they make sure people are paying attention? I think they will with a future update to the cars. Many people believe they should enable the in car camera on the Model 3 to see if the driver is paying attention. That camera in the car is not on right now. It was placed in the car for when Tesla has its FSD ride-sharing fleet up and running. The camera will monitor the occupants in the car then.

I’m curious who you think is to blame here on the people sleeping behind the AutoPilot wheel. The driver or Tesla? Comment below.

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Reference: Reddit.

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Brian Jenkins is a Tesla news reporter at Torque News. Tweet Brian with Tesla tips at @i1Tesla. Check out Brian’s Youtube Channel at i1Tesla. Also you can reach him at Instagram.

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Tesla has designed the current Autopilot software just to be a driving aid, like cruise control. Most all of the accidents and deaths in Teslas have resulted from drivers ignoring or bypassing the system that makes sure that the drivers are alert and aware when autopilot is running. I do agree that Tesla should enable eye tracking and internal monitoring systems when autopilot is enabled. It is Tesla's plan and stated goal to move towards fully self driving cars, but they do need to be tighter on their autopilot controls until then.
I think you are right that they should do something. I think they could monitor the weight on the wheel so drivers don't add things to make the car think that a hand is on the wheel. If the weight is the same for too long a a time, a warning will appear. This might deter people from this
To be honest, when I saw this video of a driver sleeping in a Tesla on a highway I thought it was staged. Could it be that this video was staged? What is the likelihood?
That could have been staged but there has been too many videos to stage. I think people are getting too comfortable with AP and they think it is better than it is. Don't get me wrong AP is very good but you still need to pay attention just incase. It is life or death
Totally agree with you Brian. No one should get very comfortable with AutoPilot: at least in the next several years.
Over the last few years a whole industry has been formed that makes millions off of short selling Tesla stock, so even though I didn't think about it when I saw this video, there is a pretty good chance that it was in fact staged to discredit Tesla, who is actively promoting it's Autopilot safety systems. I also immediately thought of the other side of this picture, even though autopilot was called flawed because it allowed someone to fall asleep at the wheel, my mind went to my real world friends who died in car crashes after falling asleep at the wheel. I wish that there had been a system like this back then that would continue to safely drive the car, warn the driver and eventually safely stop the car without any accident or injury. Cadillac does have active face/eye detection because their Supercruise system does promise hands free driving on the freeway, as long as the driver is still watching the road.
This behavior is best described as reckless endangerment.
Correct and it gives Tesla drivers a bad name
Well, if he didn't have the autopilot and fell asleep, the results would be much worse than an embarrassing photo. Maybe eventually the car will sense you're not being attentive and safely pull over and stop.
True, thankfully he was in Autopilot. But a responsible person would stop the car and get a coffee or something to wake up. AP is great but not perfect
Can police cars box him in and force autopilot to stop the car?
Yes the police can box in the car and make it come to a complete stop. This happened to a drunk driver months ago.
I don't know about the Tesla Autopilot, but Cadillac Super Cruise would watch the driver and has several layers of alarms to wake them or whatever and then it will stop the car.
Yes the Cadillac will watch your face to see if are watching the road. The camera is right in front of the driver in the but the camera in the Tesla is in the middle of the car. Cadillac can only drive like that on some highways in the US. Tesla AP can drive where ever it sees street lines. More useful in my opinion
Yes, more and more vehicles, both EV and non-EV, from all manufacturers are including more advanced cruise control features. Regardless, there will always be horrible drivers on the road that disable safety systems and make reckless decisions. If we are going to talk about mandating that manufacturers add extra features to prevent the use of advanced cruise systems while distracted, then perhaps we should consider mandating that all manufacturers add such safety system to all vehicles regardless of how advanced the cruise control is. Until we have completely autonomous systems, A driver that isn’t paying attention is ALWAYS a danger regardless of how advanced the cruise control system is.