Tesla Driver Caught Speeding While Asleep

Not too long ago, a Tesla driver and passenger in Canada were caught sleeping while the car was self-driving with a speed of over 90 mph on a highway. The occupied front seats were fully reclined, meaning neither the driver or the passenger would be in the ready position to take over control of the car if something went wrong. An article by The Verge states that “officers began to pursue the vehicle with their emergency lights flashing, at which point the vehicle ‘automatically began to accelerate’” (Hawkins). This seems extremely dangerous and if I were in the car, I know I would be terrified. According to an article by BBC News, “Tesla cars currently operate at a level-two Autopilot, which requires the driver to remain alert and ready to act, with hands on the wheel” (BBC). If the system doesn’t sense any hands on the steering wheel, it is supposed to disable itself. Therefore, either the system had issues or the owner must have found a trick to keep Autopilot working. An example from the past was towedge an orange against the wheel to simulate the pressure of a human hand” (Hawkins). It’s so strange to me how both the driver and passenger in this case were willing to trust the car with their lives when its system can be so easily fooled or have problems with functioning properly. 

This brings up questions about how safe Tesla cars really are. I believe that in any self-driving car, there should always be an experienced driver that’s ready to take the wheel if something goes wrong. The idea of being able to do whatever you want, like sleeping, while a car does all the driving for you would definitely be cool, but as of right now, it is clearly not safe to put all your trust into a self-driving car. 





19 thoughts on “Tesla Driver Caught Speeding While Asleep

  1. The technology behind self-driving cars is rapidly evolving. I think this is really interesting because the more it’s used, the better and more accurate it will be. As these systems require Artificial Intelligence models to work, the more data available, the more accurate are the predictions about what to do in a certain situation. According to BBC, Elon Musk said this year that Tesla is close to reaching a full self-driving technology, and I don’t doubt that. Even though I think we are close to reaching that level of technology, I think this will still take a long time to be used in mass because of all the regulatory and ethical issues behind this topic. The government would have to completely review the road system and the requirements needed for a fully self-driven car to be allowed to drive “by itself” without a driver responsible for any errors or mistakes.

    Source: https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-53349313

  2. I think this is an interesting topic. It definitely seems weird though that the car got pulled over for speeding; I thought that a Tesla is programmed to follow the speed limit. I think that the self-driving feature is extremely fascinating and it is definitely going to be a huge part of the future of cars. I feel that in the next 50 years the majority of cars will have self-driving autopilot features built-in.

    Personally, I don’t think I would be able to trust such technology especially since it is so new, so I would always make sure to have my hands on the wheel if I had the autopilot feature on. I wouldn’t be comfortable sleeping since there is a chance that the car could crash or the software could malfunction.

    I think the technology is very cool and useful. There is a story about a man who was having severe pain and needed to go to the emergency soon. He was in the middle of driving and the pain was so severe that he could no longer drive, which was obviously a problem since he needed to go to the hospital ASAP. Luckily, he had a self-driving Tesla and the car was able to get him to the hospital safely. So in this case, the autopilot feature actually saved his life because otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to drive due to the excruciating pain. So self-driving cars definitely have pros and cons, and as time goes on I think they will continue to improve on their safety.

    Article: https://www.tweaktown.com/news/53332/tesla-owner-heart-attack-autopilot-saves-life/index.html

  3. I agree that it is absurd that people are in their teslas and not actively participating in driving. There becomes a serious danger to the members of the car and the people around them. As I found in an article, sometimes even if you have an experienced driver is doesn’t matter. The driver of the Model X could not disengage autopilot and therefore crashed off the road. This shows that the technology is not perfect and therefore agreeing with your statement that it is not completely safe yet.


  4. First I think self driving car is definitely would benefit our human social life in a long term goal. It is obvious that the technology is not mature for people to completely trust it at this point. Tesla auto pilot only assist drivers to check surrounding, provides more accurate GPS, and helping drivers to focus on the road. So people should not completely rely on self driving. Although Tesla didn’t develop the fully self driving technology yet, it still helps people in daily life and help people avoiding some kind of trouble in the road. Tesla driver fall asleep has happened before in California, but it didn’t cause tragedy with Tesla lane assist. However, with other cars, it could be a very dangerous for people.

    Sources: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/tesla-model-s-car-canada-alberta-dangerous-driving-b480486.html

  5. I found this article shocking when I first heard what happened. It is so clearly the driver of the Tesla’s fault in this situation. Tesla is not yet equipped to have people completely distracted and not paying attention when using their autopilot function. A CNN article I read about the incident stated this, “The company has been adamant that drivers maintain control of the vehicle while the Autopilot system is in use, with a warning before it is first used saying drivers must keep their hands on the steering wheel and be prepared to take over at any time.”(Spary, 2020). However, despite Tesla’s claims, there are still loopholes that drivers can take advantage of that allow them to partake in distracted and unsafe driving. I wonder what steps Tesla will take moving forward to prevent another incident like this one? Will they be able to create a car so advanced that it can drive without any monitoring from the driver?

    Source: https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/18/business/canada-tesla-charge-scli-intl/index.html

  6. Self-driving cars are in the long run going to benefit society, because technology can usually out perform adults, although when they make mistakes they can be quiet catastrophic as we really on them more. We rely on them so much in fact that we will sleep while they work. I do not think I would trust self-driving cars to the point where I would fall asleep in one. I would be on my edge. One of the speculated benefits of self driving cars, is that there will be less traffic on the road, as they will be able to read the signals of of other cars. I trust the creators of the car industry to make cars safer as time goes on.


  7. Having talked in class about the debate fo should cars be able to connect to the internet I find this to be a very interesting article. I was a proponent of not having cars connect to the internet in the discussion my group had because I believe dit left them too open to external threats. Even electric start cars or cars without key ignition or locks are able to be broken into if the person is smart enough and finds a way to code the proper frequency the key fab is on. Now hearing that there are very low tech ways to even trick the system shows that there are disadvantages to the whole concept. Although some people may argue that this stopped the person from being a recklessly tired driver, some may argue that it is more reckless because this driver most likely had confidence in his car’s ability to get him home but someone without a self-driving car would have been more careful beforehand. The overconfidence in the systems ability to be safe and protected from hacking is what makes it dangerous since people will let their guard down and if something were to happen they would not know how to handle themselves as well or may not even be educated on how to. With this article out now I am curious as to how tesla will respond and attempt to alter the system so it can not be tracked in such a way again and prevent further trickery in different ways on their systems.

  8. Despite how bad the situation seems, I love to see the creative solutions people will have to these little problems. When you mentioned that someone wedged an orange in between the wheel to make it feel like a pair of hands, I laughed a little because I am astonished that someone would even think about that. I remember listening to a podcast with Lex Fridman and Elon Musk, and one of the topics they argued on was if they should do more to monitor the drivers. They discussed about monitoring the drivers emotions and having the cars learn from that and I thought it was super interesting. It could be considered an invasion of privacy which is interesting as well. I think the self-driving cars are the future regardless of this, but still it is interesting to note. The Tesla was probably trying to get a feel for what the driver wanted, but there was no response causing it to speed up. Overall, I enjoyed reading your breakdown of this article you did a really good job.

  9. This is a very interesting article. I think that this brings up a good point: we cannot yet trust self-driving vehicles. Simply put, the public may not be equipped to handle partially self-driving cars like Tesla. It is tempting to keep it on full autopilot. I think that Tesla and other self-driving car manufacturers should continue research and development that will allow customers to be able to take their hands off the wheel, like in this instance. However, like we talked about in class, this would require a lot more technology. Ideally, self-driving cars would be part of the Internet of Things. This would mean that each car would interact with and respond to the cars around it. There will need to be years of technological development to achieve this. Until then, Tesla must respond to incidents like this and try to mitigate any risk that comes along with them.

    Source: https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/18/business/canada-tesla-charge-scli-intl/index.html

  10. Self-driving cars are the next ‘big thing’ in our world. After our last class this past Thursday we learned a little more about self-driving cars. I always thought they were a little scary but never put too much worry into it because I probably won’t own one anytime soon. However, after we watched a few videos in class about what could go wrong with the car and if the car were to be hacked it might turn out scary. I don’t think I would trust a self-driving car right now. I would feel so nervous the whole time wondering what could go wrong. It is a hard aspect to wrap my head around because the car is so out of your control and that is the scary part. It’s worry-some that a person could be sleeping and not even know that their car is speeding. There is so much that could go wrong.

  11. The whole idea of self-driving cars has always made me very skeptical, but has never really caused many issues to actually force me against them. I would actually want to get a self-driving car myself one day, but at the same time I would always keep myself generally focused on the road. In this circumstance I wouldn’t really blame Tesla for the fault of this situation because there should always be one person in the car with the ability to drive. Yet, the autopilot system was supposed to stop the car after nobody was responsive. I think self-driving Teslas are actually very safe as shown in many instances, but there are clearly some big problems that need to be addressed going forward. So the two people driving should have been paying attention and if that were the case, the safety of that car would remain high and true to the words of Tesla. The real problem that came out of this situation was that the car should ALWAYS be ready for the wrong thing to happen because that is what REALLY makes the car safe. If they can fix these things going forward though, I really do think most people will have self-driving cars in the next 20-30 years.

    Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/25/business/tesla-autopilot-ntsb.html

  12. I believe Tesla is taking necessary steps to make auto-driving cars as safe as possible, but I agree with your statement that you shouldn’t trust the vehicle with your life. While the technology that drives these cars is very advance and statistically safe, errors such as the one you described are still very possible. I believe that individuals should only be as trusting as the technology allows. In this scenario, for example, Tesla has determined that it is safe for a car to auto-drive when the driver’s hands are on the wheel. Using unapproved techniques to engage in irresponsible activity in the car as it is driving nullifies Tesla’s safety testing. No matter how safe technology, using it in an incorrect way can have disastrous consequences, and even cost you your life.

  13. I have always liked the idea of self-drving vehicles but also have always been a bit skeptical of them. After reading your blog post it has made me even more skeptical about them. It is scary to think that you could be just driving your car then a car on autopilot can come speeding by you without a driver paying attention to their vehicle. I do not think we should be trusting this technology like that just yet. I sill think it is too new and puts not just the people in the car but many other people on the roads at risk. Also now the person you were talking about has to pay probably a lot of money in fines because the technology failed them. I think eventually we will be able to trust the technology to drive us aroudn without any driver needed in the car but we are not there yet.

  14. I agree with you that, according to the current technology level, it is really not a wise choice to fully trust self-driving cars and sleeping when driving. If, under the current situation, in the process of vehicle driving, if the “drivers” and passengers (in a self-driving car) do not care about the driving conditions of the vehicle, they can not ensure whether the vehicle will suddenly stop operating or operate incorrectly at a certain moment, which will lead to accidents. Even if these vehicles like the Tesla cars you mentioned in the article are already the product of thousands and thousands of different data tests, it might still make a mistakes which is unpredictable.But I also think it is necessary to have automatic driving technology. In addition to the fact that I think this technology in normal operation must be much more perfect than human’s own reaction speed, this technology also has great help for those who have difficulty in driving. But for me at least, it will be very difficult to achieve the goal of making all cars become self-driving, or completely trusting self-driving, for a long time to come.

    Source: https://www.curbed.com/2016/9/21/12991696/driverless-cars-safety-pros-cons

  15. It reminds me of the topic we talked about this week—the internet of things. It will also be a problem when the IoT enters our daily life. When it comes to a more complex situation, the system or the central control cannot make a correct response to it since its reaction is based on inputted data. How to make sure that each part of the system to cooperate smoothly will be a future topic. I am still very optimistic about this since the company like Tesla will keep developing its products to deal with different situations.

  16. I find this to be a perfect example of why we shouldn’t be so trusting when it comes to technology. Many people now a days expect some technological products to complete daily tasks that one must do on their own. Among many of these tasks, some may be considered dangerous with this example being a perfect demonstration. Technology is created from humans and humans are prone to making mistakes (even companies as big as TESLA). I’ve always believed that we shouldn’t be too reliant on technology when it comes to actions such as driving. This post made me question what will happen when falling asleep while driving is something normal. Will technology be advance enough to always prevent crashes? If the car crashes, who is held responsible? I believe that we must answer these questions before sinking more into the rabbit hole that is technology in our day to day lives.

  17. I think I agree with the everyone that we should always have an experienced driver inside the car. I think this is an issue that came to light only because more and more people are buying a Tesla. As a result, the more incidents like this get reported, the more data Tesla has to work and improve it’s product. I think Tesla also came to report “one accident for every 4.53 million miles driven in which drivers had Autopilot engaged. ” This is incredible progress compared to 2018’s 1 in 3.33 million. I think the idea of sleeping in a car without having to worry about a crash is certainly possible, but we have a long way to go.

    SOURCE: https://www.tesla.com/VehicleSafetyReport

  18. This is mainly one of the reasons why I will never trust self-driving cars. I can just never feel safe about it. Imagine waking up and seeing yourself speeding down 90mph down the highway and you need to re-adjust your seat since you just woke up and need time to process the situation that you’re in. You’re at major risk by simply being in a situation like this. I understand putting it on to take a quick nap if you’re on a long road trip but I’d honestly rather just find a motel to stop by and just rest there for like $20 than trust my life over an auto-driving car.

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