Footage of someone in an Autopilot-equipped Tesla Model S asleep as the car navigated dense traffic recently ignited an internet firestorm. Tesla's corporate response was swift, unequivocal and could be summed up in one word: "Don't!"
Tech Insider reported the company's statement:
Autopilot is designed to provide a hands-on experience to give drivers more confidence behind the wheel, increase their safety on the road, and make highway driving more enjoyable. Autopilot is by far the most advanced such system on the road, but it does not turn a Tesla into an autonomous vehicle and does not allow the driver to abdicate responsibility. Since the release of Autopilot, we’ve continuously educated customers on the use of the feature, reminding them that they’re responsible for remaining alert and present when using Autopilot and must be prepared to take control at all times.
During a January conference call with financial reporters, Tesla boss Elon Musk said that Autopilot was "probably better than a person right now." Despite that endorsement, the company insists that alert drivers need to always keep at least one hand on the steering wheel.
Musk predicted at the time that within 24 to 36 months, that Tesla would "be able to drive virtually all roads at a safety level significantly better than humans."
Until then, Tesla drivers need to stay just as alert as everyone else. Perhaps an in-car espresso maker or energy drink dispenser add-on should be next up on the Tesla design schedule.
h/t Tech Insider