Tesla’s self-driving Autopilot technology has proven to be proficient at evading the law. After a Tesla Model 3 refused to stop at a checkpoint in Germany, police were obliged to give chase.

The incident happened on an autobahn in Bamberg, Germany. Police tried to pull over the Tesla for a traffic stop. After neither the driver nor the Tesla answered, officers pursued the car at 110 kilometers per hour to try and stop the vehicle. Fifteen minutes into the chase, the driver awoke and pulled over.

Steering wheel weight

According to a Bamberg traffic police statement released on December 29, the driver showed druglike behaviour during inspection. The motorist had exploited the steering wheel weight to fool Tesla’s safety system into thinking hands were on the steering wheel, prompting the motor to keep running while the driver was asleep.

The motorist was charged with endangering road traffic and compelled to surrender his driver’s license pending a court hearing. Luckily, no one was hurt during the chase, but things could have ended badly. In the United States, Autopilot has caused several collisions with parked emergency vehicles.

Investigation into Autopilot

Following the incidents, the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched an investigation into Tesla’s self-driving Autopilot features. A German court barred Tesla from using advertising phrases such as ‘Autopilot’ in 2020

The court determined that calling the function Autopilot feeds the idea that Tesla vehicles can be operated without human assistance, which is prohibited.

The state of California outright banned Tesla from referring to its software as having ‘full self-driving capabilities’. This year, Senate Bill 1398 will take effect in the US to prohibit other car manufacturers from making similar promises. The bill was created with Tesla in mind.

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