A short clip posted on YouTube earlier this week shows a man seated in the rear of a moving Tesla Model 3, leaving no one in the driver’s seat. It appears to be another instance of abuse of the company’s Autopilot and Full-Self Driving features—features whose names do not correspond to the reality of their capabilities.
You can watch the clip, posted on Ingineerix on YouTube, below.
The man sitting in the back seat stares straight into the camera as the Tesla continues to roll down the street near Berkeley, California. And this man has gone the same thing on several previous occasions, SF Gate reports. In one report, the man was sitting in the backseat with his feet on the steering wheel.
It’s worth noting here that, while there are certain features built into Teslas equipped with Autopilot that are designed to deter a driver from leaving their seat, it is totally possible to trick the system into thinking there’s someone behind the wheel. Consumer Reports was easily able to do so, and while the system corrected lanes, it never sent out an alert that there was no physical person behind the steering wheel.
It’s worth further noting that Tesla, as a company, is aware of the fact that Autopilot is not actually a fully self-driving technology and that there is currently a wide misunderstanding regarding its capabilities.
And that brings us back to our back seat Berkeley driver. One of the people who recorded one of his dangerous stunts attempted to contact either the California Highway Patrol or Tesla proper to hold the driver accountable—and was hugely disappointed. From SF Gate:
He purportedly provided the info to Tesla’s customer service, who told him to contact CHP’s Oakland branch. CHP allegedly told him that there was nothing they could do, and to contact 911.
He called CHP’s main complaint line, and the representative allegedly suggested filing a report in-person, with the caveat that it wouldn’t punish the driver. All it would do, he explained, is hit him with a proverbial slap on the wrist — a warning letter to not do it again.
The driver in this instance has been lucky in that he’s been unhurt. But the fact that he has purportedly been filmed abusing Autopilot multiple times is concerning. It doesn’t seem that anyone in a position of power is willing or able to punish drivers that are using the system for dangerous means, which sets a dangerous precedent for drivers in the future.