Bhavesh Patel, aged 39, has been banned from driving for moving into his passenger seat after putting his £70K Tesla on autopilot and letting the auto drive itself on the M1 motorway.
Patel pleaded guilty of unsafe driving at St Albans Crown Court on Friday, 20 April, and admitted he had been "silly" and just "unlucky one who got caught".
The man admitted what he did was wrong but told police that his vehicle was capable of something "amazing" and that he was just the "unlucky one who got caught".
After an investigation Patel ended up pleading guilty to unsafe driving, and has been given a pretty hefty punishment including 100 hours of unpaid work, £1,800 fine, and an 18 month driving ban. The witness went on to film the incident and post it to social media, The Independent reports. He was later interviewed at the Stevenage Police Station.
Patel said he was the "unlucky one who got caught", the court was told.
Investigating officer PC Kirk Caldicutt took things more seriously and explained, "What Patel did was grossly irresponsible and could have easily ended in tragedy".
A man who put his Tesla S 60 in autopilot, then moved to his passenger seat, has been banned from driving for 18 months. "He not exclusively endangered his personal life however the lives of different harmless folks utilizing the motorway on that day".
Two drivers have died in the United States in Tesla cars with Autopilot engaged: one in a Model S sedan in Florida in 2016, and the other in a Model X SUV in California in March this year. The engineer's statement reiterated what the company has said for years - the autopilot was meant to help out a "fully-attentive driver". Ignore warnings for a minute and Autopilot will not only switch off for the rest of the drive, but (if you continue to ignore it) bring the vehicle to a complete halt.
Tesla's Autopilot feature isn't a fully autonomous system-something the company itself keeps telling people. A court revoked is driver's license for 18 months. It serves as a good reminder that drivers on Autopilot are still responsible for the vehicle and should always pay attention and be ready to take control.
The manufacturer adds that failure to do so can result in serious injury or death.