Repeat after me: Tesla's Autopilot is not actually autonomous. Tesla's Autopilot is not actually autonomous. Tesla's Autopilot is not actually autonomous.
Now, someone go and repeat that to this DJ Klypso guy. A lot.
In one of the dumbest things to happen this week (a pretty high bar, considering), Grammy-nominated music producer DJ Klypso was ticketed by the California Highway Patrol for filming himself on his phone with his feet hanging out of the driver's side window of the Tesla Model S that he was supposed to be driving. The officer cited him for operating a cell phone while driving and for driving at an unsafe speed for traffic conditions (he appears just to be creeping along in traffic in the video).
Sounds pretty standard, right? Well, when Klypso went to traffic court to fight the ticket, it was dismissed due to the citing officer not appearing despite several reports stating that he was able to get it dismissed based on the assertion that "the Tesla Autopilot drives 100% on its own, and accurately monitors speed while on the freeway." This, of course, is untrue and is definitely dangerous.
Klypso, aka Joseph Mourad, got his ticket on the 101 Freeway in the San Fernando Valley just north of Los Angeles. Given just how busy this freeway is at any given hour, Mourad's decision to go full-on "haters gonna hate" in a Tesla could be seen as exceptionally stupid, and it's fortunate that he didn't injure anyone.
This incident brings up a couple of serious issues. First, while "Autopilot" is a catchy name, it's clearly problematic, as some people are taking the name literally, and think that their Tesla is capable of being fully self-driving. This has already resulted in some high-profile accidents, and the automaker has arguably not done enough to clarify the system's capabilities and limitations. Maybe it's time to think of a more suitable name, Tesla?
Secondly, both law enforcement and the officers of our courts should be better informed about this kind of technology so that they are more effective in regulating the kind of stupidity exhibited by DJ Klypso. Advanced driver assist systems like Autopilot are only becoming more prevalent, and they're going to present a whole new class of sticky legal situations that our justice system needs to be able to understand fully.