Tesla driver banned after putting car in Autopilot and moving into passenger seat
Video posted on social media caught the attention of police — and him
Someone missed the memo about Tesla's Autopilot mode not being a completely autonomous driving mode. That someone is Bhavesh Patel from the UK who activated the feature in his Tesla S 60, shifted over to the passenger seat — and got caught, while driving about 40 mph.
Video of Patel surfaced of him, no hands on the steering wheel, in his car on the M1, one of main roadways in the country, which was then sent to police. When Patel came in to talk with officers, he didn't seem that remorseful, reportedly tell them he felt he was an "unlikely one who got caught."
The Hertfordshire Road Policing Unit, which looked into the incident reach out to Tesla to get the company's take on whether the Traffic-Aware Cruise Control that Patel flipped on was something that could take control of the car or not. That was a heavy 'no,' according to the company which responded to the UK police saying no one should expect its features to run the car, and that relying on the car to do that "can result in serious injury or death," according to the post put up by the Hertfordshire YouTube post.
Autonomous cars have made headlines lately — but not for reasons carmakers, like Tesla, would have likely preferred. For example, a self-driving Uber played a role in a fatal accident in March, killing a pedestrian in Arizona. One of Tesla's cars too was involved in a fatal crash in 2016 in Florida, while it was in Autopilot mode.
As for Patel, he was caught long after he arrived at his destination — and in the end, he was banned from driving for 18 months, was ordered to pay about $2500 (£1800), earned himself 10 days of rehabilitation and has to give 100 hours of unpaid work.