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Indian origin man in UK sat on passenger seat with car on autopilot

The Tesla S series car moved on the M1 motorway, with Bhavesh Patel sitting with hands behind his head.

world Updated: Apr 29, 2018 21:00 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
Bhavesh Patel,Passenger seat,Autopilot
The Tesla S series car, like the one shown in this picture, moved on the M1 motorway, with Bhavesh Patel sitting with hands behind his head.(Reuters file)

An Indian-origin driver who switched on his car’s autopilot function and moved to the passenger seat on a busy motorway has been slapped with a driving ban for 18 months, ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid work and pay £1,800 in legal costs.

Bhavesh Patel, 39, was caught on camera in the passenger seat and the car on autopilot. The Tesla S series car moved on the M1 motorway, with Patel sitting with hands behind his head.

Nottingham-based Patel last week pleaded guilty in the St Albans Crown Court to dangerous driving over the incident that was recorded on the motorway near Hemel Hempstead, in Hertfordshire, at around 7.40pm on May 21 last year.

Investigators were told by a Tesla engineer that the autopilot function, including traffic-aware cruise control and auto-steer, is intended to provide assistance to a “fully attentive driver”.

Reports quoted Patel as telling the police that he knew what he had done was “silly”, but said the car was capable of something “amazing” and that he was “the unlucky one who got caught”.

Kirk Caldicutt, 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.

“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.”Bhavesh Patel, Passenger seat, Autopilot, M1, motorway, UK, Hertfordshire, Tesla, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Cruise Control, car on autopilot,

First Published: Apr 29, 2018 20:57 IST