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Police Stop Tesla Driver Who Slept on an Autobahn at 68 MPH on Autopilot

Tesla driver slept in an Autobahn at 110 kph just like this Norwegian driver did in August 2021 13 photos
Photo: VG
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With all cases involving drivers sleeping at the wheel of Tesla vehicles, the company decided to make it more difficult to trick Autopilot and Full Self-Driving. It would no longer be possible to place weights on the steering to pretend the driver is paying attention, and the inside camera would also monitor behavior. None of that worked on December 28 in Germany.
The Bavarian police reported it had to pull over an unspecified Tesla at around noon (local time). Police officers tried to perform a traffic check, but the driver did not follow the instructions they gave him: they honked and told him to stop. That would start a 15-minute chase at 110 kph (68.4 mph) in which the police noticed the Tesla kept a constant distance from the patrol car. That was the first sign the driver could have activated Navigate on Autopilot.

When they managed to get a closer inspection of the vehicle, they could see the driver seat was reclined and that the driver had his eyes closed. That reinforced their impression that the car was using Tesla’s advanced driver assistance system (ADAS). It took the police 15 minutes to wake the driver and get him to pull over. Luckily, nobody got hurt.

The 45-year-old driver presented signs of “drug-typical abnormalities,” but the Bavarian police did not disclose exactly what these signs were. The vehicle inspection revealed a steering wheel weight in the footwell. As we already mentioned, this device is used to trick Autopilot and pretend that you have your hands on the steering wheel while the system is working. When Autopilot does not sense that input, it deactivates.

Tesla drivers tend to believe that Autopilot turns their vehicles into autonomous cars. There are videos of these guys trying to prove that this is the case with them in the rear seats while Navigate on Autopilot or Full Self-Driving is active. Some even take naps or pretend to do so to prove that. All fatal crashes involving these systems with Tesla are due to overreliance: believing that the features can do more than they actually can. That is a nasty product of autonowashing, which is to consider that anything is more autonomous than it really is.

California will forbid Tesla to name its ADAS Autopilot and Full Self-Driving on January 1, 2023, because that can be deemed a “misleading advertisement.” Tesla is facing several investigations about its software for crashing against emergency vehicles and fatal wrecks. Despite all that, the EV maker still has a video online that states: “The person in the driver’s seat is only there for legal reasons. He is not doing anything. The car is driving itself.” This German driver probably believed that.

Although he is lucky not to have died or killed anyone this time, the Bavarian police started a preliminary investigation into the criminal offense of endangering road traffic. He will have his driver’s license suspended while a German court evaluates his situation.
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Editor's note: The gallery contains images of other Tesla drivers sleeping in their cars on Autopilot for illustration purposes. There are no pictures available of the German driver involved with this story.

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About the author: Gustavo Henrique Ruffo
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Motoring writer since 1998, Gustavo wants to write relevant stories about cars and their shift to a sustainable future.
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