Video of yet another possibly unconscious person in the driver’s seat of a Tesla that looks like it is driving itself on a highway in Autopilot mode has surfaced.
The clip posted to Twitter on Thursday was at least the third like it that was shot in January, and shows a driver slumped into the seat of a Model 3 as it cruises along in the fast lane of State Route 118 north of Los Angeles. The exact condition of the driver, or whether Autopilot was engaged has not been confirmed.
The owner of the Twitter account, Stephanie Coronado, said “she was that way for ten miles.”
Autopilot is capable of self-steering a Tesla within its lane, passing other vehicles and navigating on/off ramps, but is supposed to deactivate and bring the car to a controlled stop if it determines that the driver is not paying attention.
That didn’t happen in December, either, when police in Northern California had to pull in front of a Tesla with a passed-out driver behind the wheel to get it to stop after following it along Hwy 101 for seven miles. The driver failed a field sobriety test and was booked on DUI charges.
“Just because there is this feature available doesn’t mean they can just completely disregard being in control of the vehicle,“ CHP public information officer Art Montiel told KTVU after the arrest.
However, on Tesla’s earnings call this past Wednesday answered a question about when owners will “start to see full self-driving features” in their cars by saying they already have them, without clarifying whether or not a driver needs to be alert when using them.
“We have - we already have full self-driving capability on highway. So from highway on ramp to highway exit, including passing cars and going from one highway interchange to another, full self-driving capability is there,” Musk said.
Musk did point out that each of the individual actions does currently need to be confirmed by drivers in the U.S., but that Tesla hopes to remove this requirement in the coming weeks.
"In a few weeks, we'll be pushing update that will allow the option of removing stock confirmed in markets where regulators approve it, which we believe that will be the case in the U.S., for example. And over time, we think probably all regulators will approve it." Musk said.
"It is not terribly surprising to see reports of people falling asleep while using the 'Autopilot' feature when Elon Musk continues to tell people that the car has self-driving capabilities,” Jason Levine, Executive Director of the Center for Auto Safety told Fox News Autos after seeing the recent videos.
“Until Tesla stops over-hyping the actual capabilities of their technology there will be the risk of yet another preventable death in one of their vehicles."
Levine was referring to two high-profile fatal accidents that occurred while drivers were using Autopilot. Neither victim is known to have been asleep at the time, but data collected from the vehicles suggests they were both relying on the system just before impact.
AAA thinks the current jumble of brand-specific names automakers use for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) like Autopilot, Nissan’s ProPilot Assist and Volvo’s Pilot Assist is confusing consumers about their capabilities, with 40 percent of Americans expecting them to be able to drive themselves.
“There is no doubt that evolving vehicle technology can bring huge gains in safety and convenience for consumers like you and me,” Jake Nelson, AAA director of traffic safety advocacy and research said.
“AAA has consistently warned that as we pursue these important benefits, we must be clear about the technology limitations as well. Technologies currently available in vehicles are not designed to completely replace the role of a human driver and travelers must remain vigilant and engaged when behind the wheel.”
Musk has not responded to a request for comment from Fox News Autos about the unconscious driver videos.
This story has been updated with additional comment regarding Autopilot from the Tesla earnings call