The California Highway Patrol arrested a driver who officers suspect was drunk and asleep at the wheel of his Tesla Model S while it cruised down Highway 101 in autopilot mode.
Around 3:37 a.m. Friday, a CHP officer spotted a gray Tesla driving at 70 miles an hour on Highway 101 near Redwood City, Palo Alto Online reported, quoting a CHP spokesman. After noticing that the driver appeared to be asleep, officers closed down traffic on the highway and slowed the Tesla by pulling in front of it and slowing down.
The driver eventually awoke after multiple CHP patrol vehicles pulled near the car with flashing lights and sirens, whereupon he failed a field-sobriety test. The CHP suspects Tesla’s autopilot mode was controlling the car at the time but won’t be sure until an investigation is completed.
“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,” CHP spokesman Art Montiel said.
In August, a 37-year-old Monterey man was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence after his Tesla crashed into a San Jose fire truck. And in January, another driver was arrested on the same charge after passing out in his Tesla while it drove in autopilot mode across the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge.
Also on Friday, Tesla said in a tweet that its cars have logged more than 1 billion miles in autopilot mode. Tesla’s web site says that its self-driving technology operates at a “safety level substantially greater than that of a human driver” but the company also instructs drivers to keep their hands on the wheel at all times in autopilot mode.