There have been countless critics of Tesla’s Autopilot feature. Most of the complaints arise from people abusing the driver-assist feature and becoming too complacent behind the wheel while the system is active.
Then of course there are those people who take it to a whole other level and either leave the driver’s seat altogether, or sleep while behind the wheel after turning on Autopilot.
While these are definitely situations of concern, what the critics fail to realize is that the feature also saves lives when the system is abused either inadvertently or on purpose.
A perfect example of this happened late Thursday night in Glendale, California.
At around 11:00pm the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department received a call about a Tesla that was travelling down the highway with a female driver passed out behind the wheel. The call came from the woman’s husband who was driving in another car behind her, telling the 911 dispatcher the Model 3 was “driving itself.”
After catching up with it California Highway Patrol officers surrounded the Tesla, with one officer pulling in front of it and slowing down. As it was designed to do, Autopilot safely brought the car to a complete stop.
The woman, 31-year old Karla Villanueva, was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and taken into custody. She was later charged with DUI and is scheduled to appear in court in January.
If this incident had taken place in any other vehicle, the result would have been very different. A car without Autopilot would have crashed within seconds of the driver passing out, potentially killing or seriously injuring innocent bystanders in the process.
You can watch the video of the incident in the news story from ABC7 below.