Tesla Autopilot: Falling asleep, safe or dangerous? (VIDEO)

Tesla Autopilot: Falling asleep, safe or dangerous? (VIDEO)

Is it safe if you were to fall asleep while autopilot is engaged? You decide!

mille | February 17, 2016

Wish the car would try to find a safe way to park but we are not there yet.

buchholtz3 | February 17, 2016

I thought I had read it would pull over, but that is apparently wrong. At least the hazards come on, but it would be a serious catastrophe if the car were rear-ended at speed.

SUSTEKI.TOKYO.JP | February 17, 2016

Well look at this way, what did your car do before for model S if you fell asleep behind the wheel? I'd say you are much better off now...

Son of a Gunn | February 17, 2016

Tesla Autopilot: Falling asleep, safe or dangerous? (VIDEO)
Submitted by chon.neth on February 17, 2016

I'm so annoyed by this post. OP, you don't know how to ask the right question. Only an idiot would ask if falling asleep is safe or dangerous. If you don't know the answer to that, you're a total idiot. If you had asked a question like, "Here's what happens if the driver is unable to respond to the AP hold warning--is stopping like this the proper thing for the car to do?", it would make you look less like a dolt..

Anthony J. Parisio | February 18, 2016

I have to agree with Son of a Gun, this is the wrong question. However the car stopping in the middle of the road will get the driver noticed faster than pulling off the road. If the driver had a heart attack or stroke this would be very important. So I would say this is the best way to deal with the problem. | February 18, 2016

There might be a better response to inaction by the driver but it was interesting to see what the car currently does.

J-Dan | February 18, 2016

It also seems to be very unlikely to stay asleep with such insistent rowdiness.
Don't you think?
Which other car would wake you up like that?
I propose a different title of the post: "The most protective car if you fall asleep while driving".

LostInPA | February 18, 2016

And once again someone proves that... there is such thing as a stupid question!

Don Schmidt | February 18, 2016

Legally, having the car stop would win in court if rear ended. So, it's logic that says, safer.

Vancouver, WA

Ricco831 | February 18, 2016

@Son of a Gunn, you clicked it so the title works!

mclary | February 18, 2016

chon.neth - Idiot!!!

Tropopause | February 18, 2016

mclary +1

HenryT2 | February 23, 2016

I think it would be better if the car dropped to 35 or 40 mph fairly quickly, then slowed to a stop over a minute or two with progressively louder alarms (inside the car). At 0 on the freeway, it should be assumed that something is wrong and blasting an alarm at full volume would not be out of line.

Silver2K | February 24, 2016

I fully believe there are tesla owners that feel they can fall asleep behind the wheel while on autopilot and will wake up when it beeps.

The demo the OP performed is important to show the car puts you in an extremely dangerous situation. Almost every day motor vehicles get rear ended at night even while the car is still moving. To say that it's safe the vehicle stopped in the lane is a serious stretch, ask Tracy Morgan.

We all love our cars, but you have to admit the beta software should not have been released without proper evaluation.

Silver2K | February 24, 2016

and please don't say it's labeled "beta". This is a motorized vehicle not a laptop, tablet or desktop computer.

NetWatchR | February 24, 2016

I think a lot of you guys are missing the point. WITHOUT this feature, the car would just fly off the side of the road killing you, your passengers and anyone else who happens to be in the way of an 80 mile an hour flying piece of 2 ton aluminum. Don't expect it to be something it's not.

Silver2K | February 24, 2016

the point it, it's beta and it shouldn't be on a 4700lb missile and we were all fine WITHOUT autopilot and still are.

J-Dan | February 24, 2016

@ SilverP85plus
The point is: if you feel better and safer not using a "beta" AP, simply don't use it. It's an option, you're not constrained to use it.
But please, report us if you fall asleep WITHOUT autopilot... if you can.

Bye bye

Silver2K | February 24, 2016

it shouldn't be an option as beta, period!

But please, report us if you fall asleep WITH autopilot in the middle of the highway after a semi rear ends you at full speed... if you can

the end!

Silver2K | February 24, 2016

I would rather fall asleep behind the wheel and fall in a ditch than have a semi rear end me in the middle of the night at full speed. my chances of survival are much higher with an airbag deploying to try and save me. I don't think you will make it when a semi make a million pieces out of your car with you in it.

J-Dan | February 24, 2016

Good for you that in billions of different possible accidents you actually know exactly what will happen to you falling in a ditch.

Good for all of us that you can't decide if we have the option to use autopilot or not.

Good... night!

Silver2K | February 24, 2016


it seems common sense escapes you.

let me explain AUTOPILOT to you because you seem.... lost

1. The word Pilot in the Autopilot function is suppose to imitate a human. The word Auto in that word is supposed to be what a human being would do but a car doing it automatically for you.

2. when turning autopilot on, you are activating a computer acting as human or close to one. the system is taught/coded to do what a human is supposed to do in all situations.

3. A human DOES NOT pull over in the middle of the highway to stop, unless of course you've lost all power and cannot make it to the shoulder.

if I fall in a ditch the car's safety features will try to save me. you know the silly seat belt and all the cute air bags.
if I'm slammed by a vehicle going 65 or over from behind, safety features will never save you only God can at that point.

you see how common sense works now? please use it in all aspects of life, it's fairly easy.... well, I guess not for all of us..

P85marin | February 24, 2016

In the last 3 months I have taken care of 2 patients that arrested while behind the wheel. Arrested as in VF arrest/sudden cardiac death. One was slumped over at a red light and after some wasted time from bystanders honking their horns at him, eventually he was pulled out and resuscitated/taken to hospital.
In the 2nd case, patient arrested behind the wheel and crashed car in hospital parking lot. Because of his location he was attended to faster.
Rather that arguing the merits vs relative danger of the current beta version, let's suggest potential improvements. I would propose the following
1. If autopilot is alarming driver to take control and driver is ignoring, escalate the warning louder - if car enters the slow down mode due to driver no response, really escalate the alarm (should be loud enough to wake up sleeping driver)

2. If still no response, car should call 911 and notify tesla motors and do it like the OnStar commercials. This has potential to save lives and I would hope it becomes available in future sw release. Will it cause false alarm if someone is just "testing" the feature? Yes and that person should answer to authorities for reckless driving or at least answer to tesla motors when they receive the alarm and attempt contact with driver.

3. There is no circumstance I can think of where a driver should have the right to let go of the controls for that long - we are only seeing what the car is capable of in hypothetical scenarios such as what the OP has posted. In reality it is a feature you want but never want to experience. The arguments about it being dangerous is irrelevant because the situation that would start this sequence is most likely life threatening (heart attack stroke asleep or drunk behind wheel etc).

Silver2K | February 24, 2016


fully agree!

there are situations where someone is in a deep sleep and the blaring noise is thought to be part of one's dream. I know I've been there once or twice myself, but in bed not behind a steering wheel.

J-Dan | February 24, 2016

@ SilverP85plus

Thank you, professor, for your lesson.

Unfortunately "common sense" is often used from prig people trying to impose their statements or behaviours, when they cannot indisputably demonstrate that are right.
And this seems to be the case indeed.

Anyway, it could be useful to do what your common sense apparently doesn't tell you: read the owner manual, where you'll find the only one proper definition of the actual Tesla Autopilot we are talking about.
If you want a different one, just try to propose improvements, if you can, as many of us have already done.

But again, feel completely free to use your "common sense" instead of actual Tesla Autopilot.
I use both.

Jcollins | February 24, 2016

MY understanding is that people who go to sleep at the wheel often micro sleep, meaning they doze off for a second or two. Unfortunately, a second or two can be disastrous not only to the driver but passengers as well. I lost a good friend in college. He went to sleep, woke up as his car started off the road and over corrected, killing him and seriously injuring three others. While I was on a long trip (500 plus miles, nearly 12 hours) in my Tesla, I dozed off for a second or two and woke when my wife touched my arm. Because I was in Auto Steer, and had my hand on the wheel, the car never moved from the center of the lane. I will never buy another car without auto steer at least on par with my Tesla. That said, dozing off scared the S**T out of me!

NKYTA | February 24, 2016

I worry enough about missing my Caltrain stop if I might doze. Even though I don't have AP (had a loaner that did), I don't foresee sleep in any equation that makes any sense.

Mark E | February 25, 2016

Normal cruise control if you fall asleep - and are incredibly lucky...

pierre.roberge | February 25, 2016

I think the car's behavior is good. I would improve the behavior by using the sonar sensors so that the car would slowly go on the curb as far right as it can without hitting anything and without going on the grass, if the grass is lower than the road. Assuming the sensors can pick that up. Would be safer than stopping right on the lane of the highway.

Also, the car could delay (within reasons) starting to slow down depending on the road layout. Slowing down at the start of a downhill is way more dangerous than slowing down going uphill. As people generally slow down going uphill anyway when they don't use their cruise control. Drivers following you will see you at the last minute if you slow down at the beginnning of a downlhill stretch. GPS could give the car that information and an accelerometer also could help the car know that too.

J-Dan | February 26, 2016

@ Mark E

Thanks a lot for the link!
Very impressive and significant!