Motorist who was spotted in the passenger seat with his hands behind his head after putting his Tesla on autopilot on the M1 is banned from driving for 18 months
A motorist who put his Tesla on autopilot before climbing into the passenger seat on the M1 has been banned from driving for 18 months.
Bhavesh Patel, 39, was spotted by a passing driver with his hands behind his head as his car sped along the congested motorway at 40mph.
Pleading guilty to dangerous driving at St Albans Crown Court on Friday, April 20, he admitted he had been ‘silly’ but said the car was ‘amazing’ and he was just the ‘unlucky one who got caught’.
The court heard that just before 8pm on May 21 last year Patel was driving his wife’s white Tesla S 60 along the northbound carriageway of the M1, between junctions 8 and 9 near Hemel Hempstead.
Traffic was heavy due to congestion when Patel switched on the supercar’s autopilot function before moving across to the passenger seat – leaving the steering wheel and foot controls unmanned.
A witness saw Patel, of Alfreton Road, Nottingham sat in the passenger seat with his hands behind his head.
Bhavesh Patel, 39 (pictured), had owned his Tesla S 60 for just five months before he was stripped of his license
The witness quickly filmed Patel as they passed him on the right.
Investigating officer PC Kirk Caldicutt slammed Patel as ‘grossly irresponsible’, adding his behaviour could have ‘ended in tragedy’.
He said: ‘He not only endangered his own life but the lives of other innocent people using the motorway on that day.
Tesla S 60: How safe is the car’s autopilot?
Also know as Traffic-Aware Cruise Control (TACC), autopilot controls acceleration, braking and turning.
A Tesla engineer described the car’s autopilot as a ‘suite of driver assistance features’.
They added it is a ‘hands-on feature’ intended to only provide assistance to a ‘fully-attentive driver’.
Tesla warns drivers to ‘never depend on TACC to adequately slow down model S’.
‘Always watch the road in front of you and be prepared to take corrective action at all times. Failure to do so can result in serious injury or death’.
‘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.
‘I hope Patel uses his disqualification period to reflect on why he chose to make such a reckless decision on that day.’
Police were alerted after the video went viral and and soon after a Notice of Intended Prosecution arrived at Patel’s home in the post.
He was later interviewed by officers at Stevenage Police Station.
Patel was also hit with 100 hours of unpaid work, 10 days rehabilitation and £1,800 in costs to the Crown Prosecution Service.
Tesla’s autopilot system has been blamed for a number of deadly crashes and near misses.
Tesla admitted a vehicle involved in a fatal California crash was operating on autopilot.
Tesla’s website claims the Model S 60’s autopilot is ‘designed to make your highway driving not only safer, but stress free’
No hands! Bhavesh Patel, 39, was filmed in his Tesla S 60 on the congested M1
Apple engineer Walter Huang, 38, was killed on March 23 while driving his Tesla X SUV.
His hands had been off the steering wheel for six seconds before the crash.
Earlier this year, a self-driving Volvo SUV being tested by ride-hailing service Uber struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona, US.
Tesla Inc. defended its Autopilot feature in a blog post at the time, saying that while it doesn’t prevent all accidents, it makes them less likely to occur.
‘We’re all gonna die!’ Model posts video of friend speeding down a freeway in autopilot with no hands on the steering wheel of a Tesla
A US model has faced criticism after she posted a video of her friend at the wheel of their Tesla car driving with no hands.
Hari Nef, 25, shared the controversial video on her Instagram story on Friday but deleted it shortly after.
It showed model Jacob Bixenman, 24, at the wheel of the vehicle facing towards the camera and away from the road.
Nef is known as a transgender model and actress who’s worked for brands such as Gucci and Bixenman most recently appeared in a Topman campaign.
Hari Nef, 25, transgender model and actress faced backlash after the posting the video to her Instagram account
‘What’s happening?’ Bixenman asks, both hands clasping his face as the car continues to move down the road.
Someone is heard saying: ‘We’re all gonna die!’ as passengers jokingly scream from the backseat.
The steering wheel is seen adjusting itself without Bixenman’s help and the car appears to be on Autopilot mode.
The Tesla appears to be on autopilot mode however however, drivers are supposed to keep their hands on the steering wheel
A Tesla spokesperson said the models were not using the technology correctly
Nef, a transgender model and actress who has worked for brands like Gucci, was travelling with Bixenman, who most recently appeared in a Topman campaign
Autopilot technology is meant to assist the driver, not drive the car like Tesla’s entirely separate self-driving technology.
Tesla said drivers should stay ‘fully attentive’ while using the autopilot mode.
A spokesperson for the company told Buzzfeed the models were not following the company’s instructions to ‘keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times,’ ‘maintain control and responsibility for your vehicle,’ and ‘be prepared to take over at any time.’
According to the company, the warnings appear every time autopilot is turned on in Tesla vehicles.
Source: Daily Mail