Late last week at 3:30 in the morning, the California Highway Patrol noticed the driver of a gray Tesla Model S seemingly asleep in his car.
Unfortunately, it was going 70 miles an hour down Highway 101 in Redwood City at the time. Fortunately, it was on Autopilot, which kept it in a single lane and responsive to traffic ahead of it.
The officer’s quick thinking led to a very elegant solution to getting the unresponsive driver. Over seven minutes, they created a running traffic break, slowing down all the lanes behind the Tesla while another cruiser maneuvered in front of the electric sedan. That police vehicle then began to slow to a complete stop, which caused the Model S to also slow and stop.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk addressed the situation on Twitter reiterating how the car should behave under Autopilot. Also he said that he is looking into this particular situation. In another tweet (embedded below) he also added “…adding police car, fire truck & ambulance to the Tesla neural net in coming months,” meaning, we believe, that Tesla vehicles will then be able to distinguish first responder vehicles from others.
Exactly. Default Autopilot behavior, if there’s no driver input, is to slow gradually to a stop & turn on hazard lights. Tesla service then contacts the owner. Looking into what happened here.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 3, 2018