Videos online show Tesla drivers seemingly sleeping behind the wheel as the car drives itself. Tesla describes the videos as hoaxes deliberately made to go viral. But one woman says what she caught on her cell phone was very real.
"We're driving down the highway and we see this Tesla and the driver is out cold!” Venus Jove told Inside Edition.
Jove spotted a guy who seemed to be slumped over and fast asleep as his Tesla made its way through traffic in Silicon Valley.
"I really think he was sleeping! It definitely wasn't a hoax. Just because he was slouched over. He wasn't looking ahead of him. And it just seemed like he wasn't faking it,” she said.
Autopilot is one of Tesla's most popular features. Tesla says autopilot is designed in a way that requires drivers to keep their hands on the wheel at all times and will sound an annoying alert if they drive hands-free. However, videos online show Tesla owners trying to disable that safety feature.
One driver, Carl Reese, created a magnetic weight that connects to the steering wheel, ostensibly tricking the system into thinking the driver's hands are on the wheel. It’s called the Autopilot Buddy. The box for the device states that it should only be used on a track and tells the driver to keep their hands on the wheel. Nonetheless, the federal government has now banned the device for safety reasons.
But Reese is apparently at it again. This time, he's added another magnet and he's branding it as a cell phone holder. He insists it won’t disable Tesla’s safety feature.
Inside Edition producer Josh Bernstein purchased the product and put it to the test. Sure enough, the “cell phone holder” circumvented Tesla’s safety feature, allowing him to drive completely hands-free.
So the next time you see someone cruising down the highway who appears to be sleeping, don’t assume it's a hoax.
Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) is now reportedly pushing Tesla to shut down its autopilot system until it can prevent drivers from falling asleep at the wheel.