A man who put a Tesla in autopilot then moved to the passenger seat is banned from driving

  • A man who put his Tesla on autopilot then moved into the passenger seat on a busy freeway has been banned from driving.
  • Bhavesh Patel, 39, from Nottingham, England, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving.
  • He admitted to officers that he knew his actions were "silly" but that the Tesla was capable of something "amazing."

A man who put his Tesla on autopilot then moved into the passenger seat on a busy freeway has been banned from driving.

Bhavesh Patel, 39, from Nottingham, England, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving. He was banned for 18 months.

St Albans Crown Court heard how he was driving his Tesla Model S at around 40 miles per hour on the M1 motorway just outside London. He had put on the Tesla's autopilot feature and then moved over to the passenger's seat.

Footage filmed by a witness in another car showed Patel sat in the passenger seat.

The local police force in Hertfordshire, a county to the north-west of London, said that Patel admitted to officers that he knew his actions were "silly" but that the Tesla was capable of something "amazing"..The offender added that he was just the "unlucky one who got caught."

A Tesla engineer who contributed to the investigation said that the semi-autonomous features in a Tesla are intended to provide assistance to a "fully-attentive driver."

"What Patel did was grossly irresponsible and could have easily ended in tragedy. He not only endangered his own life but the lives of other innocent people using the motorway on that day," investigating police officer Kirk Caldicutt said in a statement Friday.

"This case should serve as an example to all drivers who have access to autopilot controls and have thought about attempting something similar. I want to stress that they are in no way a substitute for a competent motorist in the driving seat who can react appropriately to the road ahead."

Autonomous features on cars have come under scrutiny in recent months following a number of accidents. A Tesla vehicle, which had the autopilot feature enabled, was involved in a fatal crash in March in California.

Also in March, a woman was killed by an Uber driverless car in what is believed to be the first pedestrian death linked to an autonomous vehicle.

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