– Jan. 20th 2021 4:01 pm ET
A TikTok star used Tesla Autopilot in an illegal way and posted video evidence of it – showing the dangerous normalizing of abusing the feature.
To top it off, the young man’s mother was helping him film the whole thing.
Tesla Autopilot is a term to englobe several automated driver assist features inside Tesla vehicles, like traffic-aware cruise control and Autosteer (active auto steering).
It is sometimes confused with a self-driving system becomes of Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” package, but that’s a different set of features.
Tesla makes it clear that drivers need to keep their hands on the steering wheel and be ready to take control at all times with a notification when the feature is activated.
It’s also illegal to misuse the feature, like not paying attention when using it, and we have seen Tesla drivers being charged with “dangerous driving” for sleeping at the wheel.
TikTok user misuses Tesla Autopilot and posts the evidence
Johnathon Cook, who has over 1 million hits on TikTok, posted a video of himself faking going to sleep in a Tesla Model 3 on Autopilot and even going into the backseat while driving at a significant speed on the highway.
In most jurisdictions, this would amount to reckless or dangerous driving, which can be a criminal offense.
If the police wanted to charge him, it would be fairly easy since he filmed a “behind-the-scene” of his TikTok video for YouTube – showing in detail his dangerous use of Tesla Autopilot:
In the video, he shows how he got around Tesla’s safeguards to try to prevent people from doing just that, like putting a weight on the steering wheel to trick the torque sensor and keeping the seat belt locked behind his back so he could exit the seat while the vehicle is driving.
To top it off, the TikTok maker’s mother appears to be the one helping him film the dangerous video.
We have all done dumb things when we were young, but this is crazy dangerous and endangering not just himself and his passenger, but everyone else on the road.
Tesla Autopilot is very good and safe to use, but it’s far from perfect, and you need to be ready to take control at all times. I’ve put thousands of miles on Tesla vehicles on Autopilot, and there have been dozens of times where I had to take control.
On top of misusing Autopilot in an illegal way, he is dumb enough to film the whole thing and post it on YouTube and TikTok.
There has been a trend of doing these kind of stunts for publicity. A pornographic website posted a video of the misuse of Autopilot and it went viral.
Even in the early days of Autopilot, Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s then wife, Talulah Riley, posted a video of herself misusing the driver-assist system.
When you see something like that, I think it’s important to call it out, and the police need to act to enforce use in some of those cases.
As for Tesla, there are also things they could do to help, like improve driver monitoring, but the automaker has unfortunately been slacking off on that front as it focuses on full self-driving.
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Tesla is a transportation and energy company. It sells vehicles under its 'Tesla Motors' division and stationary battery pack for home, commercial and utility-scale projects under its 'Tesla Energy' division.
The Autopilot is Tesla's advanced assisted driving program with features like Autosteer, Autopark, and Trafic-Aware Cruise Control (TACC).
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