The Driverless Delusion

What kind of a guy turns on the Tesla Autopilot and then sits in the passenger seat while the car tries to drive itself down the M1?

Probably a guy who has swallowed all the guff about driverless cars and believes they exist.

It was a Nottingham guy, Bhavesh Patel, who did this and who, last month, was banned from driving for 18 months for doing it.

Patel pleaded guilty to dangerous driving but said he thought he’d been unlucky to get caught. 

Patel’s belief that he was unlucky to be caught suggests that he thinks his behaviour was normal, rational and common.

Which leads to the uneasy inference that there are, in fact, loads of people on motorways who assume that driverless cars work perfectly well.

And, if so, shouldn’t there be a statement from the authorities  to point out that they don’t?

I don’t think there will be though. The authorities, for all sorts of reasons, are wedded to fostering the driverless delusion.



  1. The governments are the ones who want this to work, as they think every one will be going at the correct speed in what ever zone they are in. The government are far to naïve to know any thing about technology. These cars don’t have any real intelligence; they are essentially working on what the sensors are monitoring around them. They don’t know a cat from a car to a person on the road. They will have to avoid every thing if the system can! but as we have seen they are not very good at it.

  2. Ah Yes Mark, driverless cars have a use case – to get rid of stupid people.

  3. Well I understand the authorities have swallowed the line that there’ll be less accidents with driverless cars, so there’ll be less cost in clearing them up and patching up the injured. Eliminating lorry drivers, taxi drivers, bus drivers and van drivers might reduce the general stroppiness quotient in the world but hijacking could be costly.

  4. Evolution by natural selection!

  5. Of course the ‘authorities’ are wedded to the driverless delusion.
    The main reason, as far as I can tell, has nothing whatever to do with driverless ‘cars’.
    There is little economic benefit in private individuals having access to driverless vehicles.
    Imagine the money that could be saved, however, by getting rid of all the lorry drivers, taxi drivers, bus drivers and van drivers…
    What could possibly go wrong?

  6. One of my cars had a picture of a car on the centre console with a button either side one of which was marked “AUTO”.

    ‘Er indoors knew the car had cruise control so assumed it was for automatic driving mode. As the road at the time she said this was flat, straight and clear, I obliged by folding my arms for a few 10’s of seconds.

    I did say she shouldn’t do it as you need to be registered with the vehicle for it to work properly.

    She did believe me for while but not as long as the explanation about the leg lengths of sheep!

  7. You’re absolutely right Mike it is all such a lot of nonsense. People are trying so hard to persuade themselves that driverless cars are an imminent reality that, encouraged by irresponsible manufacturers, they do damn silly things like this.

  8. Maybe one way to stop this nonsense once and for all would be to simply point out that the driver is responsible for ALL accidents, even if the software is proven to be at fault. Would you trust keeping your driving licence to a computer ?

  9. The trouble us, migry, that Tesla calls the function ‘Autopilot’ which suggests, like on a plane, the pilot can go off for a pee and a zizz, but Tesla then has a list of instructions about being close enough to to the wheel to take over quickly in the case of energencies. So first they lull guys into a false sense of security, then have the list of instructions to mitigate their liability for crashes and the whole thing becomes a mess. They should call it ‘assisted driving’ or somesuch to make it clear it’s not fool-proof driverless driving.

  10. I found this on the Internet, so it must be true (I don’t mean the story, I mean that if *it* is found on the internet then *it* must be true).

    “In November 2000, Mr. Grazinski purchased a brand new 32 foot Winnebago motor home. On his first trip home, having joined the freeway, he set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the drivers seat to go into the back and make himself a cup of coffee. Not surprisingly, the Winnie left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Mr. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not advising him in the handbook that he could not actually do this. He was awarded $1,750,000 plus a new Winnebago.”

  11. Banned from driving – no problemo! Just let the Tesla do the driving for you. As long as he is a passenger he doesn’t need a driving licence :-).

    I heard an apocryphal (needed to google that!) story of someone in the USA (where else) who was driving a Winnebago, who put the vehicle into the cruise control, and left the drivers seat to go into the main part of the vehicle, which unsurprisingly crashed shortly afterwards. Apparently the manufacturer did not tell drivers not the leave the seat when using cruise control, so all later vehicles had this clearly spelt out in the instructions. I wonder of this is true (sort of like suing McDonald’s for spilling hot coffee on yourself – which I understand is true, but you need to hear the full story).

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