Watch police pull over a Tesla driver they say was asleep at the wheel going 82 mph with Autopilot switched on

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Elon Musk, Tesla CEO.

  • A Tesla operating under Autopilot was on Sunday stopped by police, officials said Tuesday.
  • Police claim the Tesla driver was asleep at the wheel while driving 82 mph.
  • The driver told the deputy that he was tired, but denied being asleep.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Police on Sunday pulled over a man from Illinois who they say fell asleep behind the wheel of his Tesla, which officers say was operating under Autopilot.

A Kenosha County deputy said he saw the 38-year-old man with his head down and “not looking at the road,” according to the sheriff’s department statement on Facebook on Tuesday. They said it appeared that the man was sleeping.

The man was driving a 2019 Tesla on Interstate 94. The car was operating under Autopilot, the company’s driver assistance feature, police said.

The deputy switched on his vehicle’s lights and siren as he followed the Tesla for around two miles at 82 mph through Kenosha County, according to the statement. The deputy was trying to pull the driver over, but the driver didn’t initially notice, the statement said.

Eventually, the driver noticed he was being stopped when the deputy drove alongside him, and he pulled over.

After the police pulled him over, the driver told them he was “a little bit tired” but denied being asleep.

The deputy told him: “I understand you have Autopilot … but you’re not able to make that conscious decision to stop in a hurry.”

The man was issued a traffic citation for inattentive driving, the sheriff’s department said.

In an interview with Fox 6 News on Wednesday, the deputy said he spotted on the Tesla’s front screen that Autopilot was engaged. He also said that officials attempted to pull over the same vehicle twice in February and once in August last year – two of these reports involved claims the driver was asleep, he added.

“Never let technology take over so that you take your hands and eyes off the road,” the deputy said in the interview.

Tesla’s website states that the current Autopilot system doesn’t make the vehicle autonomous, and that the driver should be active at the wheel. Experts told Insider that although Tesla says its cars on Autopilot are less likely to crash than average vehicles, there are major concerns about the safety of the feature.

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In California, little robot cars will deliver pizza, groceries, and medicine as a paid service in 2021 for the first time

nuro r2

Your groceries, pizza, and medicine can now be delivered via robotic vehicles if you live in California, as Nuro received the state’s first commercial permit for autonomous delivery. 

San Francisco and Silicon Valley’s streets have been bustling with self-driving vehicles from an array of companies for years. But those vehicles have only been issued permits for testing on public roads. Now, the robotics-startup Nuro has an official stamp of approval to start its paid service, according to the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

“Issuing the first deployment permit is a significant milestone in the evolution of autonomous vehicles in California. We will continue to keep the safety of the motoring public in mind as this technology develops,” said Steve Gordon, DMV director, in a statement

In 2017, California had granted Nuro approval to test its vehicles with safety drivers inside. In April 2020, it said the company could begin testing without drivers. 

Nuro driving in traffic
Nuro in traffic.

Now, the Mountain View-based company, which raised $500 million earlier this year, can deploy its vehicles for paid deliveries. 

It’ll begin service with modified Prius vehicles set in fully autonomous mode, then roll out its fleet of R2 vehicles, which don’t have driver’s seats, said David Estrada, chief legal and policy officer, in a blog post. Nuro, in early 2020 got US government permission to ditch the mirrors on its R2 fleet because, well, they don’t have seats or a steering wheel. 

“R2 was purposefully engineered for safety, with a design that prioritizes what’s outside – the people with whom we share the roads – over what’s inside,” Estrada said. It has a top speed of 35 mph and a small four-foot frame. It operates with thermal imaging, radar, and 360-degree cameras, to drive on the public road.

The deliveries will start in two communities near Nuro’s headquarters.

The company said driverless deliveries would have a “big impact” on Californians, both during and after the pandemic. They’ll help people who can’t drive and help streamline the lives of big, busy families, Nuro said. 

“We’re excited to see these benefits grow into the everyday lives of the people in our communities, in the places we also call home,” Estrada said. 

The company has ambitions beyond local grocery delivery. Nuro last week announced it was acquiring Ike, an autonomous trucking startup, for an undisclosed sum. 

Among several patents filed by Nuro is one detailing how advertisements might work on the side of a self-driving vehicle.

The patent describes how a self-driving vehicle’s sensor would pick up information about its surroundings and then serve an ad on the side of the vehicle based on that input. If it’s raining, say, the vehicle might display an ad for umbrellas. 

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