The police mentioned that Mr. Patel had switched on the automobile’s semiautonomous driving perform whereas it was in movement, after which hopped into the passenger seat — “leaving the steering wheel and foot controls completely unmanned.”
It was not clear how far he traveled that manner.
The cellphone footage was first posted on social media earlier than it was reported to the police, who despatched a “Notice of Intended Prosecution” to Mr. Patel. He was later interviewed at the Stevenage Police Station.
The authorities consulted a Tesla engineer who mentioned Autopilot options have been “intended to provide assistance to a ‘fully attentive driver.’ ”
The investigating constable, Kirk Caldicutt, mentioned: “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.”
Two drivers have died in the United States in Tesla vehicles with Autopilot engaged: one in a Model S sedan in Florida in 2016 and the different in a Model X sport utility car in California in March this year.
In its investigation into the loss of life in Florida, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration concluded that the crash had not resulted from a flaw in Tesla’s methods, however discovered that Autopilot lacked safeguards to forestall its misuse.
March additionally noticed what was believed to be the first pedestrian loss of life related to self-driving expertise, when a Volvo refitted for autonomous operation by Uber — which had an emergency backup driver behind the wheel — struck and killed a woman on a avenue in Tempe, Ariz.
As for Mr. Patel, who couldn’t be reached for remark on Sunday, St. Albans Crown Court ordered him to finish 100 hours of group service and 10 days of rehabilitation, along with the driving ban, and to pay 1,800 kilos — about $2,480 — towards the price of his prosecution.
“This case should serve as an example to all drivers who have access to autopilot controls and have thought about attempting something similar,” Constable Caldicutt added in a assertion. “I hope Patel uses his disqualification period to reflect on why he chose to make such a reckless decision.”