German authorities say the driver exhibited drug-typical abnormalities.
A Tesla driver in Germany has landed himself in deep water after authorities discovered him sleeping behind the wheel with Autopilot engaged.
According to a release from Bamberg traffic police, the 45-year-old male was traveling from Bamberg to Bayreuth when patrolling officers decided to perform a traffic stop. After numerous attempts to get the driver to pull over, officers in the patrol car noticed the Tesla maintained a set speed of 68 mph.
To their dismay, officers found the owner reclining in the driver's seat with his eyes closed and both hands off the steering wheel. After 15 minutes of this reckless behavior, the Tesla owner woke up and pulled over. Traffic police then discovered a steering wheel weight (used to fool the Autopilot system into thinking the driver is paying attention). To make matters worse, an initial inspection showed the driver to have drug-typical abnormalities.
German officials have launched an inquiry into the Tesla driver, with an investigation seeking to find whether he is guilty of endangering road traffic. The suspect has relinquished his driver's license until a court of law decides on a plan of action.
This isn't the first time Autopilot has sparked controversy in Germany. In July 2022, a Model X owner sued Tesla over the technology, with legal representatives describing it as a "massive hazard" for other road users.
"Once again, it shows Tesla does not keep full-bodied promises when it comes to Autopilot," said the plaintiff's lawyer at the time. Tesla was ordered to reimburse the owner for most of the $113,700 she paid for the car.
Autopilot (and every other driver assist currently available on the market) has not been designed to take over from the driver. Despite this, ignorant motorists see this life-saving technology as an electronic chauffeur of sorts and palm off responsibilities on these systems.
The NHTSA is probing several accidents linked to Autopilot, and several crashes have been attributed to the incorrect use of the system. Worryingly, this bizarre incident in Germany isn't an isolated incident. Previously, a Tesla Model S driver was caught napping behind the wheel as his vehicle traveled down the highway.
Another disturbing example of this surfaced in early 2021 when a budding YouTuber got his mother to film him demonstrating how to sleep while Autopilot takes care of the driving.