TL;DR – The couple was testing out their Tesla model 3 Standard’s autopilot capabilities on Malaysian roads.
Thousands of people have crossed the land borders between Singapore and Malaysia since the borders fully reopened last week, including a Singaporean couple who drove to Penang in their Tesla Model 3 SR+ using the autopilot function.
@sgpikarchu Crossed the custom within 45 minutes at midnight. Drove past KL, continuing up north! Go Tesla 🤓 #SgTeslaGoesMsia #EVboleh ♬ Vacation – Dirty Heads
The video, shared by @sgpikarchu on TikTok, saw the couple testing out their Tesla model 3 Standard’s autopilot capabilities on Malaysian roads.
They also shared that it took them about 45 minutes to clear the custom.
Hands-free driving is not allowed in Malaysia
Unfortunately for the couple, it seems that hands-free driving is not allowed in Malaysia after all, and the Malaysian police have since launched an investigation into the couple and their hands-free journey.
According to a report, Bukit Aman Traffic Investigations and Enforcement chief assistant director Superintendent Dr Bakri Zainal Abidin said the use of automated driving functions is prohibited in Malaysia.
Referring to a research report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he added that it can lead to drivers being inattentive and insensitive to road conditions.
Issues with autopilot driving
Although Malaysia currently has no laws against automated driving, Bakri added that these systems do not help drivers keep their full attention on driving and it is also not able to determine if a driver is sitting in the vehicle.
“This will probably cause the driver to pay less attention to the traffic around them, instead spending their time on other distracting things, such as using a mobile phone while driving,” said Bakri, adding that the United States prohibits the use of autonomous vehicles, but carmakers and tech companies have been testing such vehicles with permissions and necessary permits.
Reminding motorists that the Road Traffic Rules 1959 calls for good attitude, caution, and concentration while driving, Bakri said that drivers should always pay attention to the road even if all vehicles in the future are equipped with automated driving functions so that an incident can be prevented should these systems fail.
Driving in Singapore in “autopilot” mode
Meanwhile, in Singapore, the regulations when engaging Tesla’s autopilot system are also pretty much the same as Malaysia’s.
In a reply to a parliamentary question in November 2021 about Tesla cars in Singapore, Minister for Transport S Iswaran said that while there has been no reported road traffic accident in Singapore involving a Tesla car on “Autopilot” mode, drivers are still required to have their hands physically on the wheel at all times and take control as needed to maintain safety.