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German police officers chase Tesla on autopilot, driver literally asleep

  German police officers chased a Tesla car on autopilot before finding out that its  driver was asleep . Officers of the Bavarian State Pol...

 German police officers chased a Tesla car on autopilot before finding out that its driver was asleep.

Officers of the Bavarian State Police (BSP) spotted the said Tesla driving along Autobahn 70 on Dec. 29. The vehicle was headed eastward to the town of Bayreuth from Bamberg, both located in Germany’s Bavaria state. It was driving at a speed of about 70 miles per hour (mph), lower than the motorway’s recommended maximum speed limit of 80 mph.

Police attempted to stop the Tesla, but the vehicle refused to pull over. Instead, the car traveled at a constant speed and “kept the same distance from the patrol car in front.” When BSP officers pulled up next to the Tesla driver’s side window, they saw the driver – identified as a 45-year-old male – with his eyes closed and his seat reclined.

“This strengthened the suspicion that he had left the controls to autopilot and had fallen asleep,” the BSP said in a statement. Further investigation by law enforcement found that the driver had placed a “so-called steering wheel weight in the footwell” of the vehicle’s driver’s side. According to the police’s statement, the device “is attached to the steering wheel to trick the vehicle’s safety system by pretending that your hand is on the wheel.”

Fifteen minutes into the chase, the male driver woke up and followed police instructions to pull over. Officers determined that the driver was under the influence of drugs at that time.

According to the New York Postthe BSP then filed a complaint with the public prosecutor’s office in Bamberg against the driver, accusing him of endangering road traffic. As a result, the man’s license was suspended and confiscated pending a formal court hearing.

Tesla car on autopilot almost killed its driver back in 2019

While the incident in Germany did not cause any injuries or damage to property, an earlier incident in the state of New Jersey involving the autopilot function on a Tesla vehicle almost killed its driver.

According to a February 2019 report by CBS News, the 32-year-old male driver of the Tesla Model X involved in the accident was traveling in the right lane of Route 1 North in New Brunswick. However, he said the vehicle’s autopilot sensor mistook a set of road markings for a new lane. The car then went onto the grass on the left side of the Adams Lane exit ramp – traveling across the road, jumping the curb and hitting signs – before stopping in the grass.

The Tesla’s side-view mirror broke off during the accident, which also knocked several traffic signs to the ground.  

“He wanted to stay on Route 1 North. He said at that point, he believes the vehicle got confused,” Capt. Brian Hoiberg of the North Brunswick Police Department said at the time. “The driver was shaken up. He was panicked by the accident; just the feeling of not having any control.”

According to the driver, the steering wheel locked on him even though his hands were on it the whole time.

Tesla defended itself following the New Jersey accident, claiming that it is not aware of a single instance where the autopilot refused to disengage since launching it in 2015. A driver can easily override autopilot by lightly touching the steering wheel or brakes, the company added.

Watch this “Inside Edition” report about a Tesla on autopilot hitting a sheriff’s car in North Carolina.

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