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The Week in Tesla News: Snoozing on Autopilot, Musk 'Deletes' Twitter and the EV Evolution

2016 Tesla Model S

Leave it to human beings to make technology look bad … really bad. It seems obvious that it’s not a good idea to nap while behind the wheel of moving car. But one incredibly trusting Tesla owner appears to have thrown that assumption out the window — or, in this case, tucked it snugly into their neck pillow during a cruise in California.

Related: Cadillac Super Cruise Expansion Means 200,000 Miles of Hands-Free Driving

Perhaps the only thing more shocking than a Tesla speeding down the highway sans conscious driver is news that the Silicon Valley-based automaker’s CEO, Elon Musk, evidently is giving up on Twitter. Musk is well known for taking to social media to hype Tesla news and advancements. Occasionally, however, the tweets have stirred up far more reaction than just a flurry of “likes” and retweets.

And finally, an editorial takes a long-term look at the future of electric vehicles. Automakers are rushing to bring them to market, but millions of gas and diesel-powered vehicles aren’t going to vanish from roads overnight.

Fast Asleep on Autopilot

Tesla Model 3

We’re willing to wager this is the dumbest thing you’re going to see during your workweek. We know, it’s still early and lots could happen between now and Friday afternoon. But trust us, spotting someone using Tesla’s Autopilot driving-assist system to take an in-car nap is hard to top in terms of audacity and sheer stupidity.

The video was shot in California, on the bustling Interstate 405 in Los Angeles. Not only does the driver have the seat reclined and appear to be fast asleep (pun intended), but this outrageous act of recklessness was apparently committed during the height of rush-hour traffic. OK, and let’s point out another driver filmed this while driving alongside the errant Tesla sedan — two wrongs do not make a right, folks.

In case you’re overdue for a refresher course in self-driver’s ed, let’s remember that Tesla’s Autopilot system is not intended to be a fully autonomous driving aid. The system requires drivers to have their hands on the steering wheel while Autopilot is running. If a driver’s hands are not detected on the wheel, Autopilot will start a series of warnings and, eventually, bring the car to a stop.

So how did a dozing driver fool the system into thinking they were paying attention — or at least conscious — when behind the wheel? It’s hard to tell for certain from the video. As of now, the only hands-free driving system is Cadillac’s Super Cruise.

This allows the driver to take their hands off the wheel, though the system itself can only be activated on designated stretches of highway that have been integrated into Cadillac’s geo-fenced navigation network. At present, approximately 130,000 miles of highways and freeways are available for Super Cruise, though Cadillac hopes to increase this to 200,000 miles by the end of 2019.

Felt Quit, Might Delete Later, IDK

Stop the presses … or at least hit pause on social media scrolling for a moment. That’s because Elon Musk, perhaps the automotive world’s most prolific Twitter user, announced that he’s deleting his account — but then didn’t. The initial news came early on Monday via Musk’s Twitter handle @elonmusk. The one-line note said simply: “Just deleted my Twitter account.”

Except that many hours later (and counting) the account, which has more than 27 million followers, remained up and running — and the tweet about Musk deleting his Twitter account disappeared from his feed. Musk is an avid Twitter user and often uses the social media platform to tout technological advancements at Tesla and his SpaceX aerospace company.

On occasion, his tweets have made headlines for all the wrong reasons. This was particularly true last year, when the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Musk with spreading misleading information to investors via a tweet. Musk had stated he intended to take publicly traded Tesla private at “$420” per share, and that funding was available for him to do exactly that. Unfortunately, the tweet appears to have been an immature nod to marijuana use— and no, the SEC wasn’t laughing once it was let in on the joke.

Things only got worse on Musk’s Twitter account when he got into a heated exchange and called Vernon Unsworth, a British cave diver, a “pedo guy.” At the time, Unsworth was actively involved in trying to save 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave complex. When Unsworth called Musk’s offer to send a self-driving submersible to help the effort an act of self-promotion, Musk lashed out online. The Twitter dispute is now headed to trial.

Electric Cars Gain Steam, But Gas Engines Not on E

2019 Tesla Model X

Automakers are getting more involved with the move to electric cars and trucks, but car shoppers might not be as eager to make the switch. That’s according to an editorial in Automotive News, which discusses how the move to EVs is going to take a steady long-term approach.

With millions of gas- and diesel-powered vehicles plying roads in the U.S. and all around the world, the move to zero-emission electrics is not going to happen as an overnight change. If anything, the editorial says, the EV revolution might only be completed many decades into the future.

“Internal combustion engines have more than a 100-year head start,” noted Automotive News Editor-in-Chief Keith Crain. “It will take a long time to replace all those vehicles.”

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