The future of driving is here, and it’s leaving New York laws in the dust.
A viral video posted to Twitter on Friday triggered a heated conversation about how New York should be preparing for the future.
The video shows a Tesla cruising down the Grand Central Parkway in Queens. Owner Camilo Ortiz was in the driver's seat, but his hands weren’t on the wheel for 30 seconds.
“Humans only have two eyes and these cars have at least 8 cameras with lots of sensors,” says Ortiz.
It also created a bit of controversy, with people complaining he was putting other drivers at risk and breaking the law.
NY1 caught up with Ortiz, and he defended himself while driving his Tesla Model 3, even if at times he does so hands free.
“So far I've had great luck with the car and it’s never put me in a dangerous situation,” Ortiz said. “It's actually saved me from a couple of dangerous situations.”
Tesla does not consider the Autopilot feature autonomous driving. It says it simply aids the driver who is supposed to be fully attentive, have hands on the wheel, and be prepared to take over at any time.
If the driver's hands remain off the wheel, the feature disengages.
Stll, as Ortiz's video shows, some drivers are on New York's roads hands-free, despite a state law requiring at least one hand on the wheel, unless the driver is taking part in an authorized pilot test.
Asked about his apparent violation, Ortiz declined to comment.
He was more talkative about Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who watched the video and called the Autopilot upgrade that enabled the car to automatically change lanes, “epic.”
“It was exciting to see him retweet it,” Ortiz said. “I always like talking about Tesla’s and I think it gives me an opportunity to educate people about these cars and the future of self-driving.”
According to the AAA, 500 tickets were issued in New York State in 2017 for failing to keep a hand on the wheel.
The NYPD wrote 57 tickets for no-hands driving last year.
AAA says they support legislation that would allow a driver to take their hands off the wheel when an autopilot system is engaged.