A sleeping Tesla driver gets DUI while using autopilot feature 


Was a guy in California asleep and drunk in his Tesla as it was auto-driving him home at 3:30am?  Technically, the vehicle operator has to have his hands on the steering wheel, but the Autopilot Buddy company offers a $US249 iPhone holder that snaps over the steering wheel to depress the active driver button.  

The company calls their gadget a “Nag reduction device” and a “must-have Tesla accessory.” (Perhaps the most responsible gift, but here’s a last-minute Christmas stocking stuffer idea: https://www.autopilotbuddy.com.)  The US National Transportation Safety Board has highlighted that autonomous driving companies fail to educate car owners or sufficiently motivate car owners to acknowledge that sleeping and driving is an unacceptable risk.

In a 2016 submission to Australia’s National Transportation Commission, Prof Eduardo Nebot at University of Sydney highlighted the risk of operator training when he advised, “There is a need of national enforcement guidelines… on the meaning of control and proper control for different levels of automated vehicles. This will benefit vehicle manufacturers and also clarify the responsibilities of drivers. It will also be important to determine the level of training that is required to be able to operate the different level of automation provided by these vehicles.” For now, don’t sleep and drive….



This story is featured in the 7 December 2018 edition of The Warren Centre’s Prototype newsletter. Sign up for the Prototype here.