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Fell asleep using Autopilot - admission from a Model S owner

Discussion in 'Model S' started by calisnow, Mar 21, 2016.

  1. calisnow

    calisnow Active Member

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    Okay so this may be a taboo topic, but someone had to bring this up sooner or later. I've now spoken with three Model S drivers who each admit that on long drives Autopilot keeps them refreshed - but strangely also sometimes induces drowsiness similar to the effect many people experience while riding in cars as passengers.

    And two of those people told me that switching off the auto-steer function instantly restored mental alertness. Sounds ridiculous I know.

    I wonder if this drowsiness effect is common - if so I would not be surprised to see nobody on the forums admitting it, out of a (perhaps misguided) fear of either being lectured by self-appointed safety-nags (you know who you are) or worse, having their posts brought in as evidence in some future civil action after a car accident.

    But the kicker - I've spoken with a Model S owner (no I will *not* identify that person in any way so don't ask) who admitted to me privately that on an hour long drive recently they briefly nodded off three times coming home late at night from a party. This person claims they don't think they were asleep for long - but of course how would they know? They didn't know how fast they were going - somewhere between 65-75 mph they estimated - and of course the "nod offs" couldn't have been for too long because they never awoke to find themselves parked on the freeway with their emergency blinkers after "hold the wheel" failed to get their attention.

    This is a person who doesn't drink or use any drugs, who's in good health.

    However, the owner may have used autopilot to travel in a situation in which they otherwise would not have - coming home alone late at night from a party (the person is normally an early to bed type).

    The key question none of us can answer is: what is statistically safer? A sleepy/drowsy barreling down the highway using autopilot, or an awake driver not using autopilot but who is subject to all the "human errors" and attention lapses people routinely make while driving?
     
  2. kort677

    kort677 Active Member

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    people get drowsy while driving non ap equipped cars. J/S
     
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  3. calisnow

    calisnow Active Member

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    Screen Shot 2016-03-21 at 12.24.03 PM.png
     
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  4. Max*

    Max* Autopilot != Autonomous

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    Ah yes, the good ole' "I have a friend who..."
     
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  5. mikeash

    mikeash Active Member

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    I've found it to be the opposite so far. The tedium and continuous detailed concentration of manual driving can make me drowsy. I actually did fall asleep at the wheel once, VERY briefly, some years back. But on autopilot I never feel that way. I think the ability to stretch, disengage, look at something besides the road, etc., helps me to stay alert.

    Your experience may, of course, vary.
     
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  6. SabrToothSqrl

    SabrToothSqrl Active Member

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    lol, without auto pilot i've 'woken up' at my exit with no clear recollection of the past 5-10 miles.... several times... no drugs or booze. just tired.

    AP will always be safer.

    I always arrive at the wife's family tired and worn out, and sleep, while she wonders why i'm tired... IT WAS A THREE HOUR DRIVE. if I had AP, maybe I'd be less tired.
     
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  7. msnow

    msnow Active Member

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    Are you sure your "friend" isn't you?
     
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  8. Max*

    Max* Autopilot != Autonomous

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    ^
    |
    |
     
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  9. msnow

    msnow Active Member

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    Yep, should have done ^^ this.
     
  10. ChadS

    ChadS Petroleum is for sissies

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    When I was a teenager, like many I was over-scheduled - school, homework (I had a 4.0), extra-curricular activities, I was working about 20 hours a week, and of course I had to spend time with my friends. I didn't get much sleep and I was tired a lot.

    Late one evening (or perhaps it was early one morning), riding home on my motorcycle after a double-shift at work, leaning on the tank to stay out of the wind, I fell asleep. Not for long, thank goodness - I suspect only a second or two. No crash.

    But yeah, it happens, AP or no. I think the interesting question here is are people more likely to zone out or fall asleep while using AP. That seems worthy of study but I'm not sure we can learn much with anecdotes.
     
  11. demundus

    demundus Member

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    Sometimes on my long drive home I get a little tired. I have to fight it.

    I ask myself the same question everytime it happens: Would I allow myself to doze off if I had autopilot (non-ap car here)? My drive is almost exclusively highway with no exits (Camp Pendleton in California) and usually pretty uncongested at that time of afternoon... but I can't bring myself to a resounding "yes" just yet.
     
  12. DougH

    DougH Active Member

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    LMAO
     
  13. Max*

    Max* Autopilot != Autonomous

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    I have AP, and on long drives if I get drowsy my answer is always no (would I allow myself to doze off).

    I would not rely on AP to keep my alive. Will it? probably. But probably isn't good enough.
     
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  14. brianman

    brianman Burrito Founder

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    "Drowsy drivers use a feature of a car improperly and something bad might happen."
    You can say this about anything in an automobile. The problem is the driver.
     
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  15. thegruf

    thegruf Member

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    I've always been concious (sorry unintended pun) that whilst AP certainly makes driving easier, I specifically do not use it if I am tired for exactly the reason that it would be too easy to doze off.

    I am actually surprised the regulators permit the extent of AP use without camera technology to ensure the driver is alert (as MB uses?) though I assume they have bought into the periodic steering wheel nag as an alternative.

    That said, there has been remarkably few AP related accidents, and even those have been outweighed by stories of AP saves.

    as an aside, I used Summon in a public car park for the first time today as some putz parked right close up next to me, literally there was folk around just gawping, it was incredibly hard to look completely nonchalent about it. Got a "mummy is that man using his phone to move that car?" and even got myself video'd lol.

    Well done Tesla for pushing this tech. and leaving the rest scrabbling to keep up.
     
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  16. Just a Reader

    Just a Reader Member

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    There's obviously the risk that people will abuse this technology to push back the moment when they finally have to pull in for a rest - particularly so once this technology starts to arrive in delivery vans.
     
  17. HookBill

    HookBill Member

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    I challenge anyone to honestly say something like this hasn't happened to them at least once. Now, when it did, would you rather it happened with or without AP?
     
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  18. calisnow

    calisnow Active Member

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    You don't have to be jerks Mssnow and Max. I wish it was me. I'm unfortunately "gifted" with extraordinary insomnia and getting to sleep is an ordeal for me.

    I'm just making conversation and I thought the potential intersection of semi-autonomous driving and drowsiness was worth a discussion - especially given that three separate people have mentioned it to me.
     
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  19. Mark Z

    Mark Z Active Member

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    Whenever a driver starts to nod off, it is critical for the driver to exit the highway ASAP, park the car in a safe location and take a nap.

    Autopilot isn't perfect and does require an alert driver to correct any errors.
     
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  20. blanche

    blanche Member

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    I've nodded off in a very expensive Porsche. Yup, with all that incredible din behind my head. That's what working 80 hour weeks does to you. I only woke up when the car drove onto the green grassy strip between opposing lanes. Fortunately, nobody and nothing was hurt other than my ego.

    Pretty sure *everyone* has fought of sleep at some point in their driving years. Not sure what the point of this thread is.
     
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