The Tesla Autopilot abuser arrested earlier this week for reckless driving after riding in the back seat of his electric car while operating on Autopilot is out of jail. Now, he is in a new Model 3 and riding around in the backseat once again after claiming that he’s so rich, he can buy a new Tesla every time the police arrest and release him from jail.
“I’m rich as (expletive). I’m very rich,” 25-year old Param Sharma said to San Francisco’s KTVU on Wednesday. “I’ll just get a new Tesla every time. I have unlimited money to blow on Teslas. If you take my Tesla away, I will get another Tesla.”
Sharma was arrested on Monday after a video of him riding in his all-electric Tesla in the backseat on Interstate 80 surfaced online. It was his second arrest in two months.
After his arrest on Monday, Sharma was charged with two counts of reckless driving and disobeying a police officer. He was subsequently released, and legal analysts believe that the Judge will warn him of further consequences if his actions persist.
“What I think you’ll see is his first court date is the judge give him a very stern warning and say, ‘You are not to drive unless you’re in the driver’s seat of your vehicle. And if you do, we’re gonna put you back in jail,'” Steven Clark, a Santa Clara County-based legal analyst, told KTVU. Sharma isn’t bothered because he says every time he’s arrested and released, he’ll just buy a new car.
The risks of driving a Tesla on Autopilot without actually operating the vehicle are tremendous and provide numerous issues for various people. First, the operator of the car is misusing Autopilot. Tesla does not have a Level 5 Autonomous driving program, nor has it ever claimed that its vehicles could be driven without supervision from the driver. To this day, the company’s website still indicates that drivers must remain attentive and keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times.
The company’s Autopilot Frequently Asked Questions page states:
“Yes. Autopilot is a hands-on driver assistance system that is intended to be used only with a fully attentive driver. It does not turn a Tesla into a self-driving car nor does it make a car autonomous.
Before enabling Autopilot, you must agree to “keep your hands on the steering wheel at all times” and to always “maintain control and responsibility for your car.” Once engaged, if insufficient torque is applied, Autopilot will also deliver an escalating series of visual and audio warnings, reminding you to place your hands on the wheel if insufficient torque is applied.”
Additionally, the misuse of Autopilot is dangerous to other drivers, pedestrians, and anyone near a public roadway. The vehicle is still to be controlled and supervised by the driver, and Autopilot is not capable of traveling on streets without an attentive driver.
Finally, it is a huge risk for Tesla and other companies attempting to solve fully autonomous driving or even semi-autonomous driving. An incident that occurs due to a lapse in supervision or responsibility by the driver could result in major steps back in the pursuit of autonomy. While regulations in the United States and other countries are already stringent, irresponsible use of any semi-autonomous driving functionality could lead to even more delays in legislation or regulations that ease the restrictions on assisted driving.
Sharma will appear in court on July 6th, and he said he will plead not guilty.