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An Indian-origin Tesla Owner in the UK has been banned from driving for 18 months. The driver was caught sitting in the passenger seat, while his Tesla S60 was in autopilot mode on a busy British highway.
Bhavesh Patel from Nottingham has pleaded guilty to the charges of dangerous driving. As a punishment, Patel was ordered by the courts to go through 100 hours of unpaid work. He will also have to pay legal costs of an amount equivalent to Rs 1.60 lakh (GBP 1,800).
Patel had activated the autopilot function on his Tesla S60 and was seen sitting in the passenger seat, with his hands behind his head. Leaving the car completely unattended in the process.
On being questioned, Patel admitted that what he had done was ‘silly' but further added that, he was one of the unlucky ones who got caught.
The investigating officer, Kirk Caldicutt, told Shropshire Star, "What Patel did was grossly irresponsible and could have easily ended in tragedy. I hope Patel uses his disqualification period to reflect on why he chose to make such a reckless decision on that day."
He further added, "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".
Tesla Engineers also reported to the investigators stating that the autopilot function, including traffic-aware cruise control and auto-steer, is intended only to provide assistance to a ‘fully attentive driver'.
Thoughts On The Indian-Origin Driving The Tesla On Autopilot
Tesla cars come with features such as Traffic-Aware Cruise Control (TACC) and auto-steer. These functions only help provide assistance to the person sitting behind the wheel and cannot be completely relied on. It still requires the driver to react appropriately to the road ahead.