Tesla's marketing of its Autopilot advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) has led many to misunderstand its capabilities and often overestimate them, sometimes with serious consequences. One individual seemingly begging for such consequences is this aspiring social media personality who had his mom film him pretending to sleep at the wheel of a Tesla Model 3 for TikTok.
The incriminating video was initially posted to TikTok in November by user @premium_hubz, whose linked Instagram account identifies him as one Johnathon Cox. He subsequently uploaded a longer cut of the video to YouTube, one wherein he loads bedspreads and camera equipment into a 2020 Tesla Model 3 Standard Range Plus that he claims to be his own, with his mother accompanying him to record. Once on the highway, Cox activates Autopilot and wraps a weighted band around the steering wheel to prevent the system from disengaging. From there, he has his mother film him with his eyes closed and the car moving at highway speeds with traffic passing by.
Cox later crawls out of the driver's seat entirely, leaving the seatbelt buckled to stop Autopilot from deactivating, and has his mother film a second clip of him pretending to snooze in the back seat. This turned into a few semi-viral clips that have circulated on social media, often with people decrying his antics in the comments.
Further irresponsible videos can be found on his YouTube channel, including one in which he films the steering wheel from the back seat with Autopilot set at interstate speeds.
Tesla officially forbids the use of Autopilot without drivers' hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, though Cox is either ignorant of or apathetic toward these rules, not to mention the fatalities tied to the misuse of Autopilot. In any case, he has filmed himself not only violating Autopilot's operating instructions but breaking a slew of driving laws in the process.
Some commenters claim to have alerted Tesla of Cox's videos in hopes of getting his Autopilot access deleted over the air, and others have supposedly phoned law enforcement, which won't take kindly to seeing traffic laws so flagrantly violated. As for Tesla, little action beyond potentially restricting Cook's Autopilot should be expected. After all, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has previously given tacit approval for Autopilot's misuse by referencing, but not denouncing high-profile examples. And unless there are consequences for Cox or his technology-misusing ilk, more like them will spring up, and further lives will be put at risk.
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