BOSTON - The autopilot feature in Tesla cars still requires drivers have their hands on the wheel at all times, but one man says that wasn't the case Sunday.
Video from the Massachusetts Turnpike appears to show a driver paying no attention to the road while his car, a Tesla SUV, is driving straight ahead.
"I’d never seen something so bizarre," Walpole resident Dakota Randall said. "I thought I saw someone asleep at the wheel, so I did a double take and sure enough there was a guy with his head between his legs totally passed out."
He spotted the driver of the Tesla Model X on the Pike in Newton.
"I honked a couple of times because I was like, 'you guys, you might want to wake up,'" Randall said. "It just stayed the same speed and the same trajectory."
We reached out to Massachusetts State Police, and they say they didn’t get any other calls either. He says he didn’t call police but did start recording.
"A lot of people are giving me crap for using my phone and well at least he wasn’t on his phone and that’s fair, I’ll own that one. But I was like, 'I have to get this on video because I’ve never seen anything like this before,'" said Randall.
All new Tesla vehicles currently have autopilot technology. The company considers it a driver assistance system and it still requires an attentive driver. A spokesperson for Tesla recently issued a statement to Boston 25 News regarding the incident:
Many of these videos appear to be dangerous pranks or hoaxes. Our driver-monitoring system repeatedly reminds drivers to remain engaged and prohibits the use of Autopilot when warnings are ignored. At highway speeds, drivers typically receive warnings every 30 seconds or less if their hands aren't detected on the wheel. Tesla owners have driven billions of miles using Autopilot, and data from our quarterly Vehicle Safety Report indicates that drivers using Autopilot experience fewer accidents than those operating without assistance.
Drivers are supposed to agree to keep their hands on the steering wheel and maintain control of the vehicle before they enable the feature.
Tesla has stated that it plans to offer full self-driving cars at a future time but is working to overcome regulatory issues before moving forward.
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