The RCMP in Alberta say they have charged a 20-year-old British Columbia man after he was found speeding in a Tesla electric car that appears to have been on autopilot while he was sleeping.
Police say they received a call at about 4 p.m. on July 9 concerning a 2019 Tesla Model S speeding south on Highway 2 about 100 kilometres south of Edmonton where both front seats were fully reclined, and both the driver and passenger appeared to be asleep.
The car appeared to be driving on autopilot at more than 140 km/h, RCMP Sgt. Darrin Turnbull said while nobody was looking out of the windshield.
Said Turnbull, “I’ve been in policing for over 23 years and the majority of that in traffic law enforcement, and I’m speechless. I’ve never, ever seen anything like this before, but of course the technology wasn’t there.”
Tesla Model S sedans have autopilot functions, including auto-steer and “traffic-aware” cruise control, and both functions appeared to be activated.
After the responding officer activated emergency lights on their vehicle, the Tesla automatically began to accelerate, Turnbull said, even as those vehicles that were ahead of the Tesla on the highway moved out of the way.
“Nobody appeared to be in the car, but the vehicle sped up because the line was clear in front.”
The responding officer obtained radar readings on the vehicle, confirming that it had automatically accelerated to exactly 150 km/h.
The RCMP charged the driver with speeding and issued a 24-hour licence suspension for fatigue.
After further investigation and consultation with the Crown, a Criminal Code charge of dangerous driving was laid against the driver, police said.
The driver was served with a summons for court in December.
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