Tesla Driver Nabbed Riding In Passenger Seat With Autopilot On

A man in the UK has been banned from driving for 18 months after being nabbed riding in the passenger seat of his Tesla Model S while Autopilot was enabled.

In May of last year, 39-year-old Bhavesh Patel thought it would be a good idea to enable Autopilot in his Tesla before shuffling over to the passenger seat and letting the driving aid do all the work for him.

A fellow motorist then filmed Patel driving at roughly 40 mph (65 km/h) on a motorway northwest of London. In the footage, Patel could be seen relaxing with his hands behind his head.

Speaking in the Saint Albans Crown Court, Patel said he was “unlucky” to have been caught and that he was simply using the “amazing” capabilities of the electric sedan, The Guardian reports.

In court, Tesla said that drivers should also be ready to take control from Autopilot when the necessity arises.

“[Drivers should] never depend on TACC [Traffic-Aware Cruise Control] 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.”

Alongside his 18-month driving ban, Patel has been ordered to do 100 hours unpaid work, 10 days of rehabilitation and pay just under $2500.

  • exeptor

    I used to think of the average Tesla owner as a well educated and naturally smart person. Not anymore (and not just because of that as*hole).

    • Nelson

      Exactly. It seems Tesla is becoming the new car brand for assholes

    • Stephen G

      Take a closer look around…as*holes are everywhere.

      • Dr Strangefingger

        You’re right, I see one right now. 😉

        • Stephen G

          Move your computer away from the mirror.

          • Dr Strangefingger

            Ok, that did it. No more a hole. Thanks

          • Day_Trader

            That’s it? No come back? Oh come on you guys, I just got the popcorn ready🍿

          • Dr Strangefingger

            I know, right?! Just not feeling today. 🙁

    • Kash

      I’ve been saying this since 2013, Tesla owners are just BMW owners but for EV’s

  • SamuraiJack

    How is this even possible? Is there no sensor under the driver’s seat or any other way to tell if someone is sitting in it or not? Surely Tesla can disable autopilot when certain criteria are not met?

    • Dr Strangefingger

      Apparently not. But that would correct the issue.

      • Jay

        Until they get weights for the seat and things for the pedals lol. Soon people will find ways to root/jailbreak their cars this is going to be a nightmare.

    • wait a minute

      Agreed there should have the steering wheel sensor (like other manufacturers) that brings the car to a halt after 20-30 secs if no contact with the wheel is detected.

      • Dr Strangefingger

        Not sure that would help in an autonomous car. Seat sensor is the answer.

      • Nordschleife

        You can touch the streering wheel from the passenger seat. If he ever so often put his hands on the rim it would register as him paying attention. I think you usually have to touch the rim every minute or two.

      • Jay

        Hope if does rear ended or hit trying to safely pull over.

  • :/ Yurr

    That’s exactly why we don’t need any autonomous driving technology. Let’s stay doing the driving ourselves 👍

  • TheBelltower

    This can’t be the full story. For a Tesla to be put into “drive,” the car requires that your butt be in the seat. And if the steering wheel doesn’t sense your hands, or the car experiences technical stretch of roadway, or senses anything out of the ordinary, the car warns you. You first get a visual warning, then a more aggressive visual warning, then an audible warning, and then an aggressive audible warning with flashing lights. When that happens, the system disengages and doesn’t allow the driver to re-engage autopilot again during the trip.


    Tesla owners are becoming the new BMW drivers and that’s not a good thing.

  • Belthronding

    i have no respect for that public terrorists.
    he is able to interpret all potential consequences (or disasters) of his magical journey but no cares,that means his action is pure intentionally.
    so in case of any collision or crash,he should be considered as terrorist and public enemy,because he does not give a shit regarding all others on highway.

  • Dr Strangefingger


  • Ron

    Im waiting for one of my fellow Americans to say “but he’s in the drivers seat”. 😉

    • Six_Tymes

      you like insulting people? or do you really think many don’t know?


    • Six_Tymes


  • Nordschleife

    I really thought we had got beyond this driving from any other seat than the drivers seat of 2015/2016. Thankfully nothing horrible happened.

  • Galaxium

    Interestingly, many of these semiautonomous cars have sensors in the driver’s wheel to detect and ensure there’s a hand gripping it.

    I think someone figured out a way to bypass this by squishing an orange (or similar fruit) within the wheel.

  • Paul

    Nice try dude. It serves you right to get banned.

  • An Existing Person

    Natural selection at work.

  • GobbleUp

    As a 3yr Tesla owner, I have to say this guy is a total DBAG. Great to hear he lives in UK where they have strict punishment. Total tool sack.
    (worst drivers I see in USA are Prius who think they have a right to either 1) hold up traffic while they try to “teach” everyone a lesson about hypermiling or 2) speed and weave without any recognition their cars have poor brakes and handling relative to just normal cars let along a competent German/Japanese car.

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