Dangerous stunt: CHP searches for man riding in backseat of Tesla on autopilot

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – The California Highway Patrol is looking for a man caught on video sitting in the backseat of a Tesla that was on autopilot, cruising along a Bay Area road. 

Witnesses who shared the video with us say they were stunned to see this Tesla owner in the backseat of his car as it was driving along the freeway. 

Auto experts say the idea of autopilot has been talked about a lot but actions like this on public roads are incredibly reckless and dangerous.

A risky autopilot stunt in a Tesla caught on video. 

The driver was seen waving from the backseat along I-80 in Emeryville before speeding off.

Other pictures showing the man alone in the car, seemingly carefree and grinning for the camera.

“It’s incredibly dangerous to be sitting in the back seat of a vehicle as it’s traveling even if it appears to be in control,” Keith Barry said.

Keith Barry is an autos reporter for consumer reports. 

The organization recently did an experiment on how easy it is to have a Tesla drive on autopilot without anyone in the driver’s seat.

They found the “Tesla Model Y” was unable to identify if the driver was paying attention or if there was a driver there at all.

“There are lots of videos online of people doing things like this and abusing autopilot and abusing the system. It shows that it is too easy to defeat the safeguards that are in place and there should be more safeguards in place,” Barry said.

Barry argues there is an exciting element to an autopilot feature but right now the technology is in a gray area and the dangers of tricks like this not only put the driver at risk but those around them.

CHP Golden Gate confirmed the stunts are under investigation and called this an unusual incident.

“Tesla autopilot is a driving assistance system and it works very well but by no means should a driver be anywhere other than behind the wheel, paying attention to the road,” Barry said.

Consumer reports experts say Tesla vehicles have performed well in many of their tests but the company should make some small adjustments to autopilot such as a camera-based system to track drivers or at the very least use a weight sensor in the driver’s seat. 

The key with this technology experts say should be safety.

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