A team comprising Carl Reese, Deena Mastracci and Alex Roy completed a 2,995-mile sprint from California to New York behind the wheel of an Autopilot-enabled Tesla Model S in an impressive 57 hours and 48 minutes, spending most of that time hands-off. The announcement was made on Jalopnik founder Mike Spinelli's Instagram account. Data, including GPS tracking, has been provided to the TransContinental Drivers Association in order to back up the claim.
Roy is best known in automotive circles for setting a coast-to-coast record in a gasoline-powered car in 2006, which he completed in an astounding (and, naturally, very illegal) 31 hours and 4 minutes. Mastracci and Reese are equally fond of breaking records -- earlier this year, the pair were part of a team that claimed the least non-driving (charging) time to cross the US in an electric vehicle. Between the three, they possess nine current or former transcontinental driving records.
This trip was, naturally, a fair bit slower than the ones before. A Tesla Model S has a range of just under 300 miles -- and it goes lower once air conditioning, traffic and speeding are taken into account. The fastest way to juice up a Tesla's battery is with the company's Supercharger network of high-speed EV chargers, but even that still takes a good deal of time -- Tesla's website states that a Supercharger can provide 170 miles of range in approximately 30 minutes. Thankfully, there are currently 534 Supercharger stations across the country, giving the trio the juice they needed to complete the sprint.
While no company would have the chutzpah to outright endorse an individual breaking the law, the feat still remains an impressive one. At the least, their efforts should put to rest the notion (however foolish) that Tesla's Autopilot is inherently unsafe or even remotely dangerous.
Editors' note, October 23, 2015: This story has been updated to ensure that all three team members (Reese, Mastracci, and Roy) receive equal credit for achieving this new record.