After a startling video surfaced of a Tesla driver seemingly asleep at the wheel while traveling at high speed on a busy Ontario highway, one now wonders if something like this is even possible?
Louise Lesser was heading for the US border when she captured the now-viral video near St. Catharines, Ont., which was shared with CityNews on Friday.
“My partner saw what looked like a car with no one in it,” she said. “Then he looked again and saw it was just a really reclined seat, and there was someone there with their eyes closed.”
Lesser estimates that they were driving around 110 km/h on the Queen Elizabeth Way when they started shooting the video. She said the driver’s eyes appeared to be closed for about 10 to 15 minutes before he appeared to regain control of the car as the vehicles approached Fort Erie, Ont.
“I saw that highway go from 100 to zero in five seconds. This highway is known for its traffic jams and brutal breaks,” she explained. “Knowing that, not only was he not paying attention to what his car was doing, he was not paying attention to the environment.”
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When asked why they didn’t alert the police, Lesser said they weren’t sure whether to call the hotline or not, adding that they thought they could be asked to follow the vehicle.
sergeant. Kerry Schmidt of the Ontario Provincial Police told CityNews he’s concerned officers were made aware of the incident on the highway, adding that drivers will be asked to report the location of the incident. incident, but that there would be no obligation to follow.
“If someone sees an impaired driver they are going to call 911 so fast and if someone sees an unconscious driver I would expect them to do the same.”
But is it possible for someone to drive an autonomous vehicle while sleeping? According to Tesla’s website, the “autopilot” feature in one of its cars “will send an increasing series of visual and audible warnings, reminding you to put your hands on the wheel. If you repeatedly ignore these warnings , you will no longer be able to use the autopilot during this trip.”
Schmidt tells CityNews he’s seen similar technology in action.
“I’ve driven an autopilot vehicle in the past, and it’s fascinating technology, and you can disconnect from a vehicle for a while,” he said. “But it will start to alert, warn and request driver intervention after a short distance.”
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Opher Baron, an autonomous vehicle expert at the University of Toronto, says that while technology is advancing, our roads aren’t ready for fully driverless cars.
“If I want to see how my car reacts when I sit down and put my hands on the wheel and let it roll, but I’m in control, that’s one thing. But falling asleep 100 kilometers away time is just putting too much risk on others.
Baron says that while self-driving vehicles could one day help prevent things like drunk or impaired drivers, driving is still very unpredictable, indicating things like flat tires or debris suddenly falling on the road.
const. Sean Shapiro of Toronto Traffic Services told CityNews that truly self-driving cars are not yet legal in Ontario.
“To be clear, the driver is always responsible for the safe operation of the motor vehicle at all times.”
As for the possibility of charges being laid against the driver, Schmidt says he’s aware of the video circulating online, but they haven’t received any formal complaints about it.