British man disqualified for 18 months after being caught on video
Bhavesh Patel, 39, from Nottingham, UK, has been banned from driving for 18 months for dangerous driving, after he abandoned the driver's seat while the Autopilot feature of his Tesla Model S was switched on.
At around 7.40pm on May 21, 2017, Patel switched on the Autopilot assisted driving feature as he was heading down the M1 motorway. He then moved across the passenger's seat.
Patel was filmed by a passenger in a passing car with his hands behind his head. The footage was posted to social media before police were informed of the matter.
In witness accounts, Patel's Model S was travelling at around 65km/h, and traffic on the motorway was described as heavy.
According to the Hertfordshire Police, Patel admitted what he did was "silly", but said his car was capable of something "amazing", and he was the "unlucky one who got caught".
Patel pleaded guilty to dangerous driving, and in addition to his driving ban the St Albans Crown Court ordered him to complete 100 hours of unpaid work, attend a 10-day rehabilitation program, and pay court costs amounting to £1800 ($3270).
In a statement to police, Tesla said its Autopilot system was a "suite of driver assistance features" designed to provide assisted hands-on driving to a "fully-attentive driver", with traffic-aware cruise control handing distance control, acceleration and deceleration, and Autosteer providing steering assistance.
Kirk Caldicutt, the investigating officer from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Road Policing Unit, said: “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."