In a tragic incident two people were killed in the fiery crash of a Tesla as there was “no one” in the driver's seat, although it is not clear whether the car's driver-assist system was being used.
The Tesla Model S according to KHOU-TV, was travelling fast and failed to navigate a turn before running off the road, hit a tree, and bursting into flames on Saturday night. The identity of the victims had not been released by Sunday afternoon. KHOU-TV reported that one was 69 and the other was 59.
A Harris County constable told television stations in Houston that there was one victim found in the front passenger seat of a 2019 Model S and the other was in the rear after the wreck in the Houston suburb of Spring.
They feel very confident just with the positioning of the bodies after the impact that there was no one driving that vehicle.
Federal officials have criticized Tesla for fire risks related to the battery packs in its cars and for not doing enough to keep drivers from using its driver-assist function inappropriately. Authorities said the vehicle's batteries repeatedly reignited, and that deputies called Tesla to ask how to put out the fire. Tesla publishes information for first responders, including the location of high-voltage lines.
Federal traffic-safety officials are investigating several Tesla crashes in which the vehicle's Autopilot function may have been used, including crashes in which cars drove under tractor-trailers.
The company warns customers that its driver-assist system, called Autopilot, is not an autonomous-driving program, and that they must pay attention and be ready to take control of the vehicle.
However, the National Transportation Safety Board said last year that the design of the system allows driver to avoid paying attention and fails to limit where Autopilot can be used.