Note: The images in this article does not show the actual car mentioned in the text.

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Sleeping Tesla driver caught on Swedish highway – after 25 miles

Sleeping Tesla driver caught on Swedish highway – after 25 miles

Publicerad 2024-04-29 09:16 (uppdaterad 2024-04-29 10:24)

Note: The images in this article does not show the actual car mentioned in the text.

A Swedish Tesla driver who had activated Autopilot fell asleep at the wheel. The car continued to drive for 25 miles before the police managed to stop it.

To read the Swedish version of this article, click here.

The incident took place in January on the Swedish highway E4. The driver, who works for a car delivery company, was driving a 2019 Tesla Model X when he suddenly fell asleep at the wheel outside Linköping, south of the capital Stockholm.

Despite its name, Tesla's Autopilot system does not make the car autonomous. The driver has to remain alert and pay attention to the road and other road users.

Another driver, who also owns a Tesla, was approaching the Model X which was being driven in the overtaking lane without overtaking anyone. The other Tesla driver switched to the right-hand lane and tried to pass the Model X, when he noticed that the driver was asleep.

The police arrived and attempted multiple times to wake the driver up, but he continued to sleep while the car ”drove by itself.” At last, the driver woke up and the Tesla suddenly turned to the right. The driver of the police car had to swerve and brake in order not to crash.

The police first attempted to get the driver to turn off at an upcoming exit, but when he continued to speep they had to wait until the next exit. After 25 miles, the Tesla finally came to a stop. The map is approximate. Map: Openstreetmap

After about 25 miles, the car came to a halt at a gas station.

”When we explained to the driver what had happened and what he had done, I realized how dangerous this has been. I was shocked, angry and tired. My understanding was that he barely understood what had happened,” one of the police officers write in his incident report.

The man was charged and convicted of reckless driving. He said he hadn't slept the night before and was stressed because he had to deliver the car for work. Initially, he claimed to have had one of his eyes open, but later admitted to being asleep.

”I'm extremely ashamed, it was because of exhaustion. I had a Tesla with Autopilot which made me very comfortable,” he said during questioning.

The Autopilot system should only be used by an attentive driver, according to Tesla. But in practice, the system can easily be fooled. Photo: © Simon Hamelius

Tesla states in the vehicle manual that the Autopilot system should only be used when the driver is paying attention to the road. The car also has a steering wheel sensor, but that can easily be fooled. It's enough to apply light pressure to the wheel every now and then, and the sensor can also be fooled by certain devices which can be attached to the steering wheel and which can be ordered online.

Exactly how the car could drive for at least 25 miles with a sleeping driver behind the wheel is currently unclear. On the other hand, the outcome could have been a lot worse if the car had a regular cruise control system or only adaptive cruise control without steering assistance.

Some of our other articles in English:

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