While daily commuters could relatively soon be able to fall asleep in their car and wake up at their destination, currently there’s no commercially available autonomous driving system that allow so little control over a vehicle – even Tesla’s fairly advanced semi autonomous system: the Autopilot.
Yet it doesn’t stop people from abusing the technology as evidenced by a Tesla Model S driver caught on camera while apparently sleeping at the wheel.
The Autopilot’s Autosteer and active cruise control appear to be moving the vehicle in heavy traffic while the driver is filmed looking like he is asleep in a GIF posted to Imgur earlier today.
Tesla’s Autopilot requires the driver to always monitor the vehicle and be ready to take control. If the system lacks data to continue to actively steer the vehicle safely, it will show an alert on the dashboard.
If the driver ignores the alert for too long, it will emit a sound and decelerate while activating the hazard lights and moving the vehicle to the side of the road. The vehicle basically assumes that the driver is unconscious if he can’t take control after visual and audible alerts.
In this case, it seems like the Autopilot is still very much in control and therefore is not bothering the sleeping driver – now a simple passenger.
Here’s the video:
There’s also the possibility that the video is fake, but the situation is highly possible considering plenty of people fall asleep at the wheel with or without Autopilot.
Regardless, Tesla’s Autopilot is always coupled with active safety features like emergency auto braking and emergency auto steering, which at low-speed should be able to prevent the worse from happening, but the system is still not safe enough to sleep at the wheel.