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Police charge Tesla driver who was allegedly doing 90 mph while asleep

September 18, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

Canadian police have charged a 20-year-old man with dangerous driving after he was arrested for allegedly being asleep at the wheel of a 2019 Tesla Model S while it was operating in its semi-autonomous "Autopilot" mode.

London (CNN Business)Canadian police have charged a 20-year-old man with dangerous driving after he was arrested for allegedly being asleep at the wheel of a 2019 Tesla Model S while it was operating in its semi-autonomous "Autopilot" mode.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said it received a complaint of a car speeding near Ponoka, Alberta at around 4 pm on July 9.

The vehicle was traveling at more than 140 km (86. 9 miles) per hour, with both front seats "completely reclined and both occupants appearing to be asleep," the RCMP said.

When a police officer approached the vehicle with emergency lights the Tesla "automatically began to accelerate" to 150 km (93. 2 m) per hour, the RCMP said.

"Although manufacturers of new vehicles have built in safeguards to prevent drivers from taking advantage of the new safety systems in vehicles, those systems are just that -- supplemental safety systems," Superintendent Gary Graham of Alberta RCMP Traffic Services said.

The company has been adamant that drivers maintain control of the vehicle while the Autopilot system is in use, with a warning before it is first used saying drivers must keep their hands on the steering wheel and be prepared to take over at any time.

While Autopilot can keep the vehicle in a highway lane and maintain distance from traffic, it is not a fully autonomous system and still requires driver oversight.

But it is not the first time the car manufacturer and Autopilot have been embroiled in a traffic incident -- though the company has defended the technology.

Last year, a 50-year-old man died in a car crash after switching from manual mode to Autopilot, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

At the time, Tesla said that the only way the vehicle could have crashed is if Huang had not "paid attention" to the road, "despite the car providing multiple warnings to do so. "

Another man, Joshua Brown, died in May 2016 when his Tesla crashed into a tractor-trailer in Florida while the software was active.

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