He didn’t crash, but that obviously didn’t matter. Police noted that what he did was “grossly irresponsible” and was risking not just his life, but those of “other innocent people.” On top of the ban, Patel has to work 100 unpaid hours, conduct 10 days of rehabilitation and pay £1,800 (about $2,480) in prosecution costs.
It almost goes without saying why doing this would be dangerous: Autopilot can keep your car in its lane and maintain a traffic-appropriate speed, but it won’t perform evasive maneuvers or otherwise react well in emergencies. There is a question about how long Patel managed to keep Autopilot going, though. The system requires that you keep your hands on the wheel. Ignore warnings for a minute and Autopilot will not only switch off for the rest of the drive, but (if you continue to ignore it) bring the car to a complete halt. Patel most likely stayed in the passenger’s seat for just a brief period, but it’s slightly disconcerting that he had any time to crawl around the Model S without Autopilot bringing his experiment to a premature end.