A man who switched on his car’s autopilot before moving to the passenger seat while travelling along a motorway has been banned from driving for 18 months.
Bhavesh Patel, 39, pleaded guilty to dangerous driving at St Albans Crown Court in the UK.
While his Tesla S 60 was in motion, Patel chose to switch on the supercar’s autopilot function before moving across to the passenger seat and leaving the steering wheel and foot controls completely unmanned.
A witness noticed Patel, who had owned the car for a maximum of five months at the time of the incident, sitting in the passenger seat of the vehicle.
No one could be seen in the driver’s seat and Patel appeared to have his hands behind his head. The witness, who was a passenger in another car, filmed Patel as the car drove past.
Witnesses estimated that the vehicle was travelling at approximately 65km/h at the time.
Footage of the incident was first posted on social media before it was reported to police.
He was later interviewed by officers at Stevenage Police Station, where he admitted that he knew what he had done was silly, but that the car was capable of something “amazing” and that he was just the “unlucky one who got caught.”
As part of the investigation, officers obtained a statement from a Tesla engineer who described autopilot as a ‘suite of driver assistance features’.
They stated that these are hands-on features intended to provide assistance to a “fully-attentive driver.”
Investigating officer PC Kirk Caldicutt, from the Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire Road Policing Unit, said: “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.”