The Tesla Autopilot function may have to be renamed after what this guy did.
The term Autopilot sounds quite futuristic but it is not quite as accomplished as some drivers seem to assume it is. While most people are aware that fully autonomous vehicles are still a way off, the admittedly impressive capabilities of Tesla's own autonomous autopilot mode are not quite ready for taking over just yet. The driver of a Tesla Model S in England seems to disagree and was caught sitting in the passenger seat of his car while it attempted to navigate unaided along a busy roadway.
Bhavesh Patel of Nottingham admitted to his actions being a bit 'silly', but he maintained that he had not put anybody at risk by allowing the car to drive along unattended. The police released a short video, where you can briefly see the car passing by with nobody behind the wheel.
The courts saw things a little differently and sentenced him to 100 hours of unpaid community service as well as a fine. Patel said that he had been unlucky in being caught as many other Tesla drivers regularly did the same thing. The scary fact is that there are an uncomfortably large number of social media posts by other Tesla owners showing them doing similarly ridiculous things with their cars. Tesla themselves clearly state that drivers should be ready to take over from the car at all times and clearly this means that you should not be sitting in the passenger seat. Numerous official tests of these systems in various makes of cars have shown that they are far from infallible.
Hopefully Bhavesh Patel's case will serve as a wake-up call to these fanboys who seem to think that their cars are somehow more advanced than the manufacturers own claims. Bhavesh may wish his car really was self-driving seeing as his licence has been suspended for the next 18 months.