Well, we should have seen this one coming: America’s two technological obsessions du jour, Pokemon Go and Tesla’s Autopilot program, have come together to make the freeway just a little more scary.
For those just emerging from their caves, Pokemon Go is a new augmented reality game that lets you catch the cute critters in the real world. It’s massively popular, and creating all sorts of strange, occasionally dangerous, scenarios. Tesla Autopilot is a new partially autonomous driving system installed in most of the company’s new electric cars. Even though Autopilot does most of the driving for you, you’re expected to still pay attention and keep you hands on the wheel, but many people aren’t doing that, leading to at least three Autopilot-related crashes. Can you see where this is going?
There have been unsubstantiated reports of people playing Pokemon Go while using Autopilot, but recently YouTuber Gary Zhou uploaded a rather disconcerting video of him doing it on the I-95 near Washington, D.C. The video was pulled after it started to attract too much attention, but websites managed to grab screenshots and quotes from the wild ride.
Here’s Gary trying to justify catching them all while speeding down the freeway…
“One of the things I’ve noticed [about Autopilot], I’m not sure exactly what the cutoff is, but I believe under 45 or 40 mph – as long as there’s a good amount of surroundings and clear lane markers as you can see here – it will never ask you to put your hands back on the steering wheel. So, in essence, Autopilot works pretty much 100 percent fully autonomous in bumper to bumper traffic, minus of course lane changes and things like that, and again, it’s fantastic for catching Pokémon on the Go.”
Sigh. Needless to say, don’t do this if you happen to own a Tesla. We may be living in a crazy Pokemon-infested future world and all, but cars still aren’t toys.