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Tesla driver seen asleep at the wheel. Is self-driving tech ready for sleeping drivers?

A passenger on a California freeway shot a video of a Tesla driver dozing off at the wheel.

Tesla driver filmed 'fast asleep' while car barreled down freeway
  • The video shows a man sleeping at the wheel of his Tesla. Another driver said that the driver traveled more than 30 miles asleep at the wheel.
  • It's not the first time a Tesla driver has been spotted dozing off at the wheel.
  • In April, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said its cars would achieve full autonomy by the end of 2019, though it's unclear whether that's a realistic timeline.



A new video shows a man in the driver's seat of a Tesla "fully sleeping" on Southern California's 405 Freeway. The Tesla-owner was asleep for at least 30 miles on the notoriously busy freeway, according to Shawn Miladinovich, who spotted the sleeping driver and had his passenger shoot a video.

"I realized he was fully sleeping," Miladinovich told NBC4 News. "Eyes shut, hands nowhere near the steering wheel."

The driver's hands appeared to be loosely tied to the steering wheel, ostensibly to keep the car in autopilot mode. When Tesla drivers take their hands off the steering wheel, the car issues a series of increasingly intense alerts.

"This helps ensure you are attentive, and that the steering wheel is properly oriented in the event that you need to take over control," Tesla says on its website. "If you repeatedly ignore these warnings, then you will be locked out from using autopilot for the duration of that trip."

Miladinovich expressed concern.

"If his little thing tied around that steering wheel fell off, and he was still sleeping, he would have slammed into somebody going 65 miles per hour," Miladinovich said.

​Is self-driving technology ready for us to sleep at the wheel?

Not yet. Although Tesla's Autopilot can do things like change lanes, change freeways, and take exit ramps without driver input, the company says its cars require drivers who are prepared to take over steering in the event of an emergency. The government does too: sleeping and drunk-driving in a Tesla are illegal.

The Society of Automotive Engineers has defined five levels of autonomous driving. Currently, Tesla's Autopilot falls somewhere between levels 2 and 3.

So, when will Tesla drivers be able to doze off at the wheel? Sometime in 2020, according to Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

"My guess as to when we would think it's safe for somebody to essentially fall asleep and wake up at the destination – probably towards the end of next year," Musk said in a podcast with ARK Invest in February. "That's when it's most likely. I don't know when regulators would agree."

In April, Musk said his cars would achieve level-5 autonomy by the end of 2019. Of course, that was days before the company issued its earnings report for Q1 2019, and anyway Musk is known for promising big, but not quite following through on time.

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Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.

Credit: Neom
Technology & Innovation
  • The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
  • The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
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Better reskilling can future-proof jobs in the age of automation. Enter SkillUp's new coalition.

Coronavirus layoffs are a glimpse into our automated future. We need to build better education opportunities now so Americans can find work in the economy of tomorrow.

Image: metamorworks / Shutterstock
Sponsored by Charles Koch Foundation
  • Outplacement is an underperforming $5 billion dollar industry. A new non-profit coalition by SkillUp intends to disrupt it.
  • More and more Americans will be laid off in years to come due to automation. Those people need to reorient their career paths and reskill in a way that protects their long-term livelihood.
  • SkillUp brings together technology and service providers, education and training providers, hiring employers, worker outreach, and philanthropies to help people land in-demand jobs in high-growth industries.
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Do we really date based on our own ideals?

Do we really know what we want in a romantic partner? If so, do our desires actually mean we match up with people who suit them?

Does what we want in a partner really match up with what we look for?

Photo by Nejron Photo on Shutterstock
Sex & Relationships
  • Two separate scientific studies suggest that our "ideals" don't really match what we look for in a romantic partner.
  • Results of studies like these can change the way we date, especially in the online world.
  • "You say you want these three attributes and you like the people who possess these attributes. But the story doesn't end there," says Paul Eastwick, co-author of the study and professor in the UC Davis Department of Psychology.
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These 7 items make working remotely more efficient and effective

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