The robot driving a Tesla in Bamberg, Germany wasn’t programmed to respond to police. That led to a 15 mile chase along the Autobahn. The engineers aren’t to blame, because the owner used a device to defeat the safety features. Bavarian police say he “had fallen asleep” behind the wheel. His passenger was out cold, too. Apparently, the car was smarter than it’s owner.
Robot pursued by police
It may not be much more than a chip in appearance but the robot which drives Tesla on “autopilot” mode confused the heck out of Bavarian police trying to keep the Autobahn safe. They were cruising along on patrol when they noticed something alarming.
The driver didn’t appear to be conscious. Neither was the passenger. They hit their lights and siren but the driver didn’t notice and the car simply kept driving along as programmed, at about 70 mph.
Luckily, all the noise and commotion woke up the driver and he pulled over. The robot would have kept on going.
Tesla driver and passenger fall asleep along the motorway while on autopilot pic.twitter.com/K9p6chq7uI
— The Sun (@TheSun) December 25, 2022
As reported by various outlets, “Bamberg traffic officers tailed the electric vehicle for about 15 minutes on Wednesday while on the country’s Autobahn 70 after signaling for a traffic stop with repeated horns and sirens.”
In normal police report fashion, they give the dry facts without any interesting details. The man occupying the driver seat told his robot to drive toward Bayreuth.
Right about noon, the car caught attention of the traffic patrol. “When the police patrol wanted to subject him to a traffic check, he did not respond to stop signals or repeated horns from the officers.”
It kept a steady speed
There isn’t any speed limit on the Autobahn so the robot could have been really flying. Thankfully, it wasn’t. “The Tesla vehicle noticeably maintained a speed of 110 kilometers per hour, which is about 68 miles per hour,” according to police.
When they spotted the car, “the Tesla driver was reclining in the seat with his eyes closed and his hands off the steering wheel.” That gave the cops a little clue.
“This strengthened the suspicion that he had left the controls to the autopilot and had fallen asleep.” Once they got the 45-year-old putative driver awake and answering questions, they found a “steering wheel weight” in the vehicle’s footwell.
— Flyin18T Motorsports (@Flyin18T) January 2, 2023
Police note “such a device is used to trick Tesla’s safety systems into thinking a driver’s hands remain on a wheel so that the autopilot remains active.” Tricking your robot isn’t nice. They may have more “intelligence” than the lab wants to admit in the sales brochure and it’s a good idea to stay on friendly terms.
One thing in his favor, the suspect cooperated. Police noted that the man “showed drug-typical abnormalities during the check-up.”
Reports don’t say what he was charged with but “a preliminary investigation was reportedly initiated against the driver, and he has to give up his driver’s license until the court reaches a decision.” The robot isn’t in any trouble.