• Tesla Model S Drove On Autopilot and Saved The Drunk Driver’s Life

Someone give the Autopilot a cape already

We have been hearing stories about how the autonomous system has failed in cars and even killed people in some cases. How about we talk about a life-saving incident for a change? A 45-year old man in his Tesla Model S was spotted by the cops cruising on an expressway fast asleep. They chased the car for minutes before successfully stopping it. Imagine the dire consequences had it not been for the Autopilot system.

Drunk AutoPilot User Will Probably Still get a DUI

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, cops in California arrested a 45-year-old man who was sleeping in his Tesla Model S while it was cruising down Highway 101. The driver was in an inebriated state and Autopilot took over once the driver stopped giving inputs to the car. Although it is still unclear if the car was actually running on Autopilot, but it took them over several miles and seven minutes to stop the Model S.

The driver, Alexander Samek, was detained after the police spotted his gray color Model S driving at 70 miles per hour Southbound on Highway 101 at 3:30 a.m. and gave it a chase to stop it.

How Autopilot Is Supposed To Work

Tesla did not comment on whether the Autopilot was engaged or not, but if it actually was, then the technology has saved someone’s life. The automaker only said that it was “looking into what happened here.” Since all companies who install autonomous technologies in their cars insist that drivers should always be in control of the car, these kinds of incidents raise concerns about how that technology is utilized by drivers.

The way the system is designed, it is supposed to detect if the driver is holding the steering wheel, and, if they’re not, provide a series of warnings.

If the driver provides no response at all, the car is supposed to start slowing down on its own within a few minutes, before coming to a complete stop and turning on its hazard lights.

What They Had To Say

Tesla Model S Drove On Autopilot and Saved The Drunk Driver's Life
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This is what Chronicle’s report said, “When officers pulled up next to the car, they allegedly saw Samek asleep, but the car was moving straight, leading them to believe it was in autopilot mode. The officers slowed the car down after running a traffic break, with an officer behind Samek turning on emergency lights before driving across all lanes of the highway, in an S-shaped path, to slow traffic down behind the Tesla, Montiel said. He said another officer drove a patrol car directly in front of Samek before gradually slowing down, prompting the Tesla to slow down as well and eventually come to a stop in the middle of the highway, north of the Embarcadero exit in Palo Alto — about 7 miles from where the stop was initiated. Authorities said the entire operation took about seven minutes.”

The California Highway Patrol Public Information Officer, Art Montiel told the Mountain View Voice that “It’s great that we have this technology; however, we need to remind people that ... even though this technology is available, they need to make sure they know they are responsible for maintaining control of the vehicle.”

Our Take

Tesla Model S Drove On Autopilot and Saved The Drunk Driver's Life
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Such instances are definitely heart-warming to read, especially when technology stopped an almost certain fatal incident that was about to happen. On the other hand, people are giving in completely to a technology that is there to assist you with driving, not drive the car for you on its own. No matter how sophisticated and complex, it is “artificial” intelligence at the end of the day. So, don’t be stupid and let technology take over you. What is your take on this whole episode? Do you think this one-off incident was enough to shut down Autopilot critics? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

Further reading

2017 Tesla Model S Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2018 Tesla Model S.

First Driving Impression: An Honest Take on the 2018 Tesla Model S Exterior
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First Driving Impression: An Honest Take on the 2018 Tesla Model S

Sidd Dhimaan
Sidd Dhimaan
Senior Editor, Truck Expert, EV Expert - sidd@topspeed.com
Sidd joined the Topspeed.com team in 2017 as an intern and in less than a year he earned a full-time position as an associate editor and junior automotive expert. Fast forward to today, and he is currently serving as a senior editor, pickup truck expert, and EV expert.  Read full bio
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