Police claim "no-one was driving" in a Tesla Model S crash, two dead
Elon Musk has contested the cause to be Tesla's autopilot via Twitter
No matter how cool the name sounded, the term ‘Autopilot’ was always going to trouble Mr Musk and his electric car company. The trouble with it is, the feature isn’t as advanced as its name suggests yet, but the people still believe them to be so. This leads to numerous and unvalidated testing regularly, and that leads to incidents. The most recent one ended up with a Tesla in flames.
Last month saw a 2019 Model S Tesla crashing into a tree, resulting in the death of two of its occupants near Woodlands, Houston. As per reports, the crash occurred during the late hours of the night when the Model S, with Level 2 autonomous capabilities, collided with a tree and burst into flames. Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman told KPRC 2 that the investigation showed “no one was driving” the 2019 car when the accident happened.
The Precinct 4 deputies stated the car was being driven at ‘high-speed’ when it failed to negotiate a turn, ran off the road and hit the tree instead. Firefighters with 32,000 gallons of water couldn’t extinguish the flames as the battery-powered vehicle continued to burn for four hours!
On investigating the remains of the burnt vehicle, firefighters found the driver’s seat to be empty. Of the two, one man occupied the passenger seat while the other was seated on the rear bench.
KPRC 2 reporter Deven Clarke spoke to one of the deceased man’s brother-in-law, who said he was taking the car out for a spin with his best friend, confirming the presence of just two in the vehicle. He went on to claim he saw the owner reversing the car from his driveway, which entails the driver must’ve abandoned his seat mid-way. This could be the result of one of those “watch this” instances where the owner wanted to flaunt the autopilot systems of his vehicle, which being a Level 2 system requires the driver to stay attentive and keep their hands on the wheel to intervene if necessary, and it didn’t end well.
However, a tweet by an individual contesting Tesla’s autopilot systems to be the sole reason behind the crash got backed by Elon Musk. He defended the autonomous feature citing multiple reasons such as a weighted driver’s seat, frequent contact with the steering wheel and over-speeding, which would’ve prevented the car from remaining in Autopilot mode. Musk further backed his theories stating the autopilot wasn’t engaged as per data logs. More interestingly, Musk states the crashed vehicle didn’t even have Full Self-Driving (FSD) capabilities equipped in the first place.