Tesla is a electric car manufacturer from the U.S. The cars the company make are known to be sophisticated and equipped with modern technology that allow them to drive autonomously.
And here, a man has been charged with dangerous driving by Alberta RMCP, after he was allegedly sleeping while his Tesla Model S car was speeding to more than 90mph (150km/h) on Autopilot.
When the car was speeding, the police was alerted. After chasing the speeding car, the officers saw that the two front seats were fully reclined. Upon closer look, the officers saw that both the driver and the passenger were apparently asleep.
"Nobody was looking out the windshield to see where the car was going," recalled Police Sargent Darri Turnbull to CBC News.
The Tesla Model S was doing 140km/h on a 110km/h speed limit highway at first, but sped up to 150km/h when the police turned on siren. The car was doing this because as the siren was on, other cars pulled out of the way. The runaway car sensed a clear road ahead, and started speeding up.
"Nobody appeared to be in the car, but the vehicle sped up because the line was clear in front."
Alberta RCMP received a complaint of a car speeding on Hwy 2 near #Ponoka. The car appeared to be self-driving, travelling over 140 km/h with both front seats completely reclined & occupants appeared to be asleep. The driver received a Dangerous Driving charge & summons for court pic.twitter.com/tr0RohJDH1
— RCMP Alberta (@RCMPAlberta) September 17, 2020
When the police car got closer to the Model S that the siren was loud enough. "It’s at that point he can see the driver pop up and pull over," Turnbull said.
The driver was a 20-year-old driver from British Colombia, and the incident happened near Ponoka, a town in central Alberta, Canada, about a 100km south of Edmonton and 200km north of Calgary.
The driver was initially charged with speeding and handed a 24-hour license suspension for fatigue. But later after consultation with legal officials, the charge of reckless driving was added.
"I've been in policing for over 23 years, and the majority of that in traffic law enforcement, and I'm speechless. I've never, ever seen anything like this before but of course the technology wasn't there," the police officer added.
Tesla founder Elon Musk has said he expects his vehicles to be completely autonomous in the close future. But at this time, he still expects drivers input for safety.
At the moment of the incident, Tesla cars operate at a level-two Autopilot, which requires the driver to remain alert and ready to act, with hands placed on the steering wheel. If in 15 seconds the car senses no hands on the steering wheel, it will sound an alarm that gets louder the longer it senses no hands or wheel movement.
If no input is received after that duration, the vehicle will automatically slow down and pull over.
However, there are many videos online with instructions on how to override the safety features. And in this case, it was reported that the driver attached a weight to the steering wheel to trick the car’s systems.
Autonomous cars are indeed innovations.
Despite Tesla has been busy improving the AI and the algorithms the cars use, in order to get to level-five of autonomous driving where human intervention can be completely eliminated, they are still limits to what the cars can and cannot do.
In most parts of Canada, autonomous cars are still in their early stages, with Ontario and Quebec approving pilot projects as long as a vigilant driver is present to take control of the vehicle when required.
There have not been any reported self-driving car crashes in Canada, but several have been reported in the U.S.
"It’s definitely a new thing, which unfortunately we might see more often," said Turnbull.
The driver, who hasn’t been named by RCMP, is set to appear in court in December 2020.
Previously, independent porn star Taylor Jackson shot the first-ever adult film inside a moving self-driving car. The car was a Tesla Model X.
At that time, the nine-minutes blue-movie clip quickly went viral, and skyrocketed to internet fame, making the "Tesla" the number-one search term on the adult-rated website Pornhub.