Tesla logo on the nose of a vehicle
Tesla brand logo on the nose of an electric sedan.Robert Alexander/Getty Images
  • A driver fell asleep while his Tesla car was using its autopilot assistance system on a German highway.
  • Police tried to stop the driver as the car reached up to 70 mph, The Times of London reported.
  • Police spent 15 minutes trying to wake him. He had his license confiscated pending an investigation.

German police stopped a Tesla driver who fell asleep at the wheel with the car's Autopilot assistance system on, according to The Times of London.

The car reached close to 70 mph on the highway in Bavaria, Germany, while the 45-year-old driver continued to snooze, the newspaper reported.

Police spent close to 15 minutes unsuccessfully trying to wake the driver by honking their horn and signaling him to stop, The Times said.

The Upper Franconia Police Directorate first suspected the car was on autopilot when it maintained a constant distance from the police patrol vehicle, which was traveling at 110 kmh (68.3 mph), according to the newspaper.

"The officers noticed that the Tesla driver was leaning back in his seat with his eyes closed and his hands were not on the steering wheel," police said, per The Times. "This reinforced the suspicion that he had let the autopilot take over and had fallen asleep."

Police said he eventually woke up and pulled over, showing "drug-related symptoms," The Times reported.

The newspaper said that police found a steering wheel weight in the footwell of the vehicle, a device that mimics the weight of hands on the wheel, allowing a driver to take their hands off and continue to drive. The device overrides Tesla's safety feature.

The driver had his license confiscated pending an investigation on a charge of endangering road traffic, per The Times.

Elon Musk, Tesla's CEO, has championed the car company's Autopilot assistance system. Last December, he said Tesla doesn't get "rewarded" for the people Autopilot saves.

However, Tesla vehicles have been the focus of several special crash investigations opened by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Reuters reported.

NHTSA has opened 41 special crash investigations since 2016 involving Tesla cars where advanced driver assistance systems, such as Autopilot, were believed to have been used, according to Reuters.

Insider previously reported that vehicles using Tesla's Autopilot software were involved in 273 crashes in the US from July 2021 to May 2022. 

More than a dozen fatal crashes in the US have involved automated driver assist systems, Dailymail.com reported last month.

Read the original article on Business Insider