Two die in a Tesla car crash in Texas with ‘no one in the driver’s seat, police say. The car ran off-road and hit a tree north of Houston before bursting into flames, local media says.
Two men died after a Tesla vehicle, which was believed to be operating without anyone in the driver’s seat. Crashed into a tree north of Houston, authorities said.
“There was no one in the driver’s seat,” Sgt Cinthya Umanzor of the Harris County Constable Precinct 4 said of the crash on Saturday night.
Tesla is getting all the attention.
Texas road car accident by Tesla
Based on a preliminary investigation. The police told KPRC 2 they believe nobody had been behind the wheel. However, they have not finished their comprehensive investigation. A preliminary investigation is not conclusive.
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Firefighters reportedly used 32,000 gallons of water and spent hours suppressing the fire that resulted from the electric vehicle crash.
Police told the New York Times that minutes before the crash, the wives of the men involved heard them say they wanted to go for a drive and were talking about the vehicle’s Autopilot feature. The men were 59 and 69 years old.
As CNBC has previously reported, Tesla sells automated driving systems under the brand monikers Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD). It also releases a “beta” version of Full Self Driving (FSD beta) software to some customers who have the premium FSD option, which currently costs $10,000.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said on a Feb. 11 episode of the Joe Rogan Experience podcast: “I think Autopilot’s getting good enough that you won’t need to drive most of the time unless you really want to.”
Tesla Autopilot and FSD are not capable of controlling electric vehicles in all normal driving circumstances.
The US auto safety agency said in March it had opened 27 investigations into crashes of Tesla vehicles. At least three of the crashes occurred recently.
Tesla car history on the road
The 2019 Tesla Model S traveled at high speed when it failed to negotiate a curve and went off the roadway, crashing to a tree and bursting into flames, local television station KHOU-TV said.
After who extinguished the fire, authorities located two passengers, with one in the front passenger seat while the other was in the back seat of the Tesla, the report said, citing Harris County Precinct 4 police officer Mark Herman.
Tesla and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The self-driving technology must overcome safety and regulatory hurdles to achieve commercial success.
Umanzor said the two crash victims were born in 1962 and 1951.
The Bottom Line
According to records obtained by CNBC and others in a letter to the California DMV late last year, Tesla lawyers said that “neither Autopilot nor FSD Capability is an autonomous system.” And in their owners’ manuals, Tesla cautions drivers: “The currently enabled features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.”
Nonetheless, many Tesla fans and influencers share videos on social media that show people driving hands-free for prolonged periods, asleep at the wheel, or with nobody in the driver’s seat.
For example, actor Jamie Foxx shared a video on his YouTube channel where he pretended to be asleep at the wheel of a Tesla Model 3, operating it hands-free with his eyes closed. In January this year, as The Drive reported, a teen and his mom made a video in which he pretended to sleep at the wheel of a Tesla and then climbs into the back seat for a snooze.