Rear seat driver abuses Tesla Autopilot

Occurred: May 2021

A Tesla owner was reported for repeatedly abusing the Autopilot feature of his Tesla Model 3, including sitting in the backseat while the car drove itself.

Despite being arrested and having his car impounded for reckless driving, Param Sharma continued to engage Autopilot and sit in the backseat of his vehicle. He was seen with his foot on the wheel while the car was driving with Autopilot engaged.

Tesla’s Autopilot system is designed to keep the car in its lane and adjust its speed, and with certain settings, the car can switch lanes or take exit ramps on its own. However, Tesla explicitly states that drivers must be seated at the wheel, with hands on the wheel and eyes on the road1. Despite these guidelines, Sharma managed to trick the sensors into thinking someone was at the wheel by using his foot.

This incident raises concerns about the misuse of Tesla’s Autopilot and Full Self-Driving features, and the potential dangers it poses on the road. There is currently a wide misunderstanding regarding its self-driving capabilities.

Operator: Param Sharma
Developer: Tesla
Country: USA
Sector: Automotive
Purpose: Automate steering, acceleration, braking
Technology: Driver assistance system
Issue: Safety
Transparency: Black box; Marketing