People Keep Coming Up With Ways to Fool Tesla's Autopilot

Drivers have been low-tech hacking Tesla's Autopilot in order to drive hands-free.

Autonomous cars are becoming increasingly more popular. It's no surprise that manufacturers are looking to add their own iterations of this creature comfort to newer luxury cars, and despite some of the public expecting to get into a self-driving car and just watch a movie, or not pay attention in the slightest, automakers haven't quite perfected the technology. That's why some owners have resorted to their own "hacks" in order to achieve fully hands-free driving.

To show just why driver alertness is still required with today's self-driving technology, we visit the Golden State to discuss how bad of an idea this alleged drunk driver had when he stepped behind the wheel of his Tesla. Eventually, because the driver failed to respond to the Tesla's prompts to engage the steering wheel, his car came to a stop on the Bay Bridge before officers found the vehicle. According to the California Highway Patrol on Twitter, the offender attempted to defend his actions by explaining to the officers that his car was using Autopilot.

Tesla, which has one of the more advanced autonomous driving platforms available for consumers to purchase in the United States and elsewhere around the world, still has a way to go in order to be perfect. The technical and legal limitations of a brand new kind of driving will most certainly have some ups and downs before becoming a widely adopted standard. Many drivers seem to forget this and still continue to put themselves and others in harm's way.

Tesla institutes a series of ways to ensure that a driver doesn't foolproof its autonomous driving system. One of the most basic ways that the automaker accomplishes this is by requiring that the driver have their hands on the steering wheel so that they remain alert and in control if a problem arises. The precious reaction time which can be instilled into a driver's habits would otherwise be lost if their hands were by their side, or face buried in a cell phone. But drivers don't want to have to keep their hands on the wheels. They would rather be doing other things to occupy their time, possibly because long-distance driving can be boring.

Now, more drivers are finding a way around this. Even with one of the world's most technologically advanced vehicles, following the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Stupid Simple) rule has helped drivers outsmart the engineers.

Another driver claimed to use a water bottle to achieve the same feat, showing that putting a little bit of weight onto the steering wheel can trick the Tesla into allowing the driver to take their hands off of the wheel. Drivers have seemingly been looking to go completely hands-free for some time, as the below Facebook post shows a user who discovered this trick back in 2016.

via Facebook

It's important to remember that while piloting a self-driving car with today's tech, a driver has to stay alert. There's some level of responsibility and accountability that must be maintained when someone steps behind the wheel of a car and expects to co-inhabit a road with other humans. Drinking, texting, and even sleeping have all been common occurrences with autonomous vehicles and it's starting to hurt people. Even though we think that self-driving cars might be making us safer, can we really trust other people behind the wheel when they pull stunts like this?