An Indian-origin man was arrested in California for letting his Tesla car illegally “auto-drive.”
Officials said that they had received several complaints from the public who had spotted a car like his being driven without anyone in the driver’s seat.
The California Highway Patrol said it arrested him in the Silicon Valley on Tuesday and impounded his car after he was found letting the electric car drive by itself while sitting in the backseat in violation of laws that require a driver to be in the driver’s seat in case of emergencies.
Sharma, 25, was kept overnight in jail and let go after being charged with reckless driving, according to the police.
Police had posted pictures of the car with an empty driver’s seat and asked anyone spotting it to call them.
Sharma had himself posted on social media recordings of him letting the car go on “autopilot” while in the backseat.
The Telsa electric cars manufactured by Elon Musk are equipped with computers, cameras, sensors and GPS to enable them to self-drive. But the law requires Teslas and other cars running on “autopilot” to have a driver behind the wheel for safety.
Last month a Tesla went off the road in Texas, hit a tree and caught fire killing the two occupants, neither of whom was in the driver’s seat.
There have been at least nine fatal accidents since Tesla hit the road in 2015.
This was the second time Sharma had been caught pulling the stunt and he had been charged last month also, the Patrol said.
As soon as he was out of jail, he purchased another Tesla and repeated the stunt on Wednesday, KTVU Fox TV station reported.
The station reported that he came to a meeting with its reporter with the car on autopilot and him in the backseat.
He told the reporter he bought a new car, adding, “Yeah, I’m rich as (expletive). I’m very rich.” A Telsa Model 3 car like the one that was confiscated costs upwards of $40,000.
(Written with inputs from IANS)