Tesla company manufactures electric cars with self-driving capabilities. Some of their models are model 3, S X, and Y. A Tesla model S 2019 car crashed in Houston on Friday, killing two of its passengers, men aged 59 and 69. But the real question now is whether there was anyone in the driving seat.
The police and eyewitnesses say that the car’s driver’s seat was empty when it crashed on a tree. The car caught fire immediately after the crash, making it impossible to rescue the passengers.
One of the passengers was later identified as Dr. William Varner, working in the Memorial Hermann Medical System. The other one is still unidentified.
The authorities stated that the crash happened at 11:25 p.m., Friday, in the Carlton Woods subdivision near The Woodlands. The car had one passenger in the front passenger seat and one in the back seat.
Mark Herman, Harris County Constable Precinct 4, stated that the investigation showed that “no one was driving” at the time of the crash. He also added that witness statements too proved the same.
Witnesses stated that the two victims took the car for a test drive without a driver to show how the car can drive itself. The car failed to negotiate on a highway curve, went off the road, and crashed into a tree.
After the crash, it immediately started to burn. The firefighters had to work for more than four hours to put out the fire, as the battery kept reigniting.
They used 32,000 gallons of water to put out the fire. The authorities also said that Tesla did not respond when they asked how to fire.
Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, tweeted on Monday about the incident. He stated that the data logs recovered from the crashed Tesla car indicated that the car was not in autopilot mode during the crash. He also added that the owner did not purchase the ‘Full Self-Driving” mode, which would have allowed the owner to engage autopilot in local roads.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is currently investigating 23 cases of Tesla autopilot crashes. Though Tesla is warning customers that the autopilot mode requires the driver’s attention, the sensors only monitor torque on the steering wheel.
Elon has also been rejecting calls to add additional safety features such as a camera to track the driver’s eyes. After this Houston crash, the Tesla company shares fell down 3.4% on Monday.
Speaking of Elon’s tweet, the authorities stated that this was the first time they hear from Tesla about the incident. They also said that if Tesla pulled out the data logs, they would be helpful to them in the investigation. On Tuesday, the Texas Police plan to serve warrants to Tesla to get the driver data logs.
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