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Indian-origin man arrested in US for letting Tesla autodrive, repeats stunt after release

This was the second time Sharma had been caught pulling the stunt and he had been charged last month also, the Patrol said.

SNS | New Delhi |

An Indian origin man from San Francisco, who is infamous for pulling off stunts to flaunt his wealth, landed in jail for doing stunts in his Tesla. The man, identified as Param Sharma, was arrested in California for letting his Tesla car illegally “autodrive”, but as soon as he was let out he bought a new one and repeated the stunt, reports stated.

Sharma, 25, was arrested by California Highway Patrol earlier this week for sitting in the backseat of his Tesla, while the car was running in the autopilot mode.

The California Highway Patrol said it arrested him in the Silicon Valley on Tuesday and impounded his car after he was found letting the electric car drive by itself while sitting in the backseat in violation of laws that require a driver to be in the driver’s seat in case of emergencies.

Sharma was kept overnight in jail and let go after being charged with reckless driving and disobeying a police officer, reports stated.

Officials said that they had received several complaints from the public who had spotted a car like his being driven without anyone in the driver’s seat. Police had posted pictures of the car with an empty driver’s seat and asked anyone spotting it to call them.

Sharma had himself posted on social media recordings of him letting the car go on “autopilot” while in the backseat.

The Telsa electric cars are equipped with computers, cameras, sensors and GPS to enable them to self-drive. But the law requires Teslas and other cars running on “autopilot” to have a driver behind the wheel for safety.

This was the second time Sharma had been caught pulling the stunt and he had been charged last month also, the Patrol said.

As soon as he was out of jail, he purchased another Tesla and repeated the stunt on Wednesday, KTVU Fox TV station reported.

He came to a meeting with its reporter with the car on autopilot and him in the backseat, the station reported. He told the reporter he bought a new car, adding, “Yeah, I’m rich as (expletive). I’m very rich.”

A Telsa Model 3 car like the one that was confiscated costs upwards of $40,000.

The digital media Vice, which described him as a “disgustingly rich brat”, said he had posted pictures “of himself doing everything from throwing away thousands of dollars by tying cash to balloons, hosting cash sweepstakes…”

He told Vice in a 2013 interview that he had given away $100,000 in these stunts.

Last month a Tesla went off the road in Texas, hit a tree and caught fire killing the two occupants, neither of whom was in the driver’s seat.

There have been at least nine fatal accidents since the Tesla hit the road in 2015.