A strange incident involving a Tesla driving on Autopilot took place on a German Autobahn on December 29, 2022.
Bamberg traffic police officers in a patrol car that was driving on the A70 Autobahn noticed a 45-year-old male Tesla driver who had fallen asleep at the wheel with Autopilot activated as he was travelling from Bamberg in the direction of Bayreuth.
At around 12:00 pm, the police patrol wanted to subject the driver to traffic control, but the driver did not react to stop signals and multiple horns from the patrol car, according to a press release from Polizei Bayern (Bavarian Police) picked up by Teslarati.
Officers noticed that the vehicle precisely maintained the same distance from the patrol car ahead from the Viereth-Trunstadt junction to the Bamberg-Hafen junction, travelling at a constant speed of 110 kilometres per hour (68 mph).
Upon closer inspection, the police realised that the Tesla driver was leaning in the reclined seat with his eyes closed, without keeping his hands on the steering wheel. This confirmed their suspicion that he had activated Autopilot and then fell asleep. The patrol car continued to escort the Tesla for about 15 minutes, when the man finally woke up and followed the instructions of the police.
After he got out of the car, the driver showed "drug-typical abnormalities" during the traffic check. On the same disturbing note, police officers found a so-called steering wheel weight in the footwell. This is a defeat device that attaches to the steering wheel to trick the Tesla's safety system into "thinking" that the driver's hands are on the steering wheel.
Needless to say, steering wheel weights are highly controversial and dangerous accessories that work as defeat devices. In this particular case, had Autopilot not been activated, the driver would have most likely crashed as soon as he fell asleep at the wheel.
The Bamberg Public Prosecutor's Office initiated a preliminary investigation into the Tesla driver, whose identity was not disclosed, for endangering road traffic, a criminal offense in Germany. He is no longer allowed to drive until the court reaches a decision.