Tesla’s Controversial Autopilot Saves Drunk Tesla Model S Driver

Tesla is an industry leader in autonomous vehicle technology. Whether Tesla’s autopilot actually works as advertised or not is debatable. Tesla Full Self-Driving Mode is one of the electric vehicle company’s biggest points of controversy. A Tesla Model S just earned the feature some redemption after helping a driver avoid a potentially fatal accident.

Do Tesla models have potential as designated drivers?

The dashboard of the Tesla Model S.
The dashboard of the Tesla Model S | PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP via Getty Images

Tesla Self-Driving Mode’s goals are idealistic, to say the least. CEO Elon Musk and the hardworking folks at Tesla hoped to create a feature that could use cameras and sensors to drive on its own just as efficiently as a human would drive. The feature’s true, current capabilities have missed the mark in many ways.

Tesla models are getting into accidents in Self-Driving Mode. Drivers are also getting into trouble with the law because of the feature. Allowing a Tesla to take the wheel can be pretty reckless in most situations. While the potential for the technology can change the automotive industry as we know it, it still has a long way to go. Or does it?

Critics have found so many weak points in the driving mode that it is easy to completely dismiss any positive outcomes for this innovative, developing technology. The feature has caused quite a few accidents, but how many has it avoided?

Tesla autopilot saves irresponsible drunk driver

The dashboard of the Tesla Model S P90D | Chris Walker/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

According to InsideEVs, a 24-year old driver in Norway had too much to drink, so his Tesla Model S had to take over. He was clearly passed out behinds the wheel, and other motorists took notice. The Model S was going 63 miles per hour on the highway. After the vehicle’s system determined the driver to be unresponsive, it engaged the autopilot and gradually slowed the Model S down.

The Tesla Model S slowed completely until the vehicle was stopped in a tunnel then activated its own hazard lights. Thanks to the actions of the Model S, no one was hurt. If the driver had been operating a non-Tesla vehicle, they could have crashed and ended up killing themselves and others.

How much is a Tesla with autopilot?

An overhead shot of a red 2021 Tesla Model 3 parked on an empty air strip
The 2021 Tesla Model 3 electric car | Tesla

Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Mode hasn’t proved itself to be the most reliable yet. Still, many consumers are intrigued by the possibility of a Tesla chauffering them around town. Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Mode is offered through a subscription service.

The subscription costs $99 monthly for Tesla owners who have Enhanced Autopilot equipped (which tacks on several thousand dollars to your vehicle purchase price). The basic autopilot feature costs $199 a month for drivers who don’t have the Enhanced Autopilot add-on equipped. The Enhanced Autopilot option may seem pricey, but as the Full-Self Driving feature gets even more advanced, it may be the only way to go for those who want the complete experience.

Can a Tesla drive you home drunk?

The interior of a Tesla Model X.
Interior of a Tesla Model X electric luxury crossover SUV | Sjoerd van der Wal/Getty Images

Despite its many shortcomings, Tesla’s Full-Self Driving feature is on its way to being extremely useful. It is the most advanced commercially available autonomous vehicle system on the market. That being said, Teslas with Enhanced Autopilot systems could get you to a destination that was programmed into the GPS if you were unable to drive yourself, however, there are some real moral and legal issues.

Full Self-Driving Mode is advanced but it is still far from perfect. If a driver is unable to retake control of the vehicle to avoid an oversight by the system, then allowing the vehicle to drive is taking a huge risk. Letting your Tesla drive you home while inebriated could come with a list of fines and tickets almost as long as the list of issues with the system. Things could also take a fatal turn when you relinquish control to your Tesla. The bottom line is, the Full-Self Driving Mode is impressive, but no one should give it complete control anytime soon.

RELATED: Consumer Reports Worried About Tesla Using Customers To Test Dangerous ‘Full-Self Driving’ Mode on Public Roads