Tesla faces again autopilot questions following a crash. KHOU, the the Wall Street newspaper and Reuters report that two men died after a 2019 Model S collided with a tree north of Houston with no one in the driver’s seat. One was in the front passenger seat, Constable Mark Herman told media, while the other was in the back.
It is not yet known whether the autopilot was active during the crash. The men were not identified, but one was 59 and the other 69.
We asked Tesla and NHTSA for comment.
If the Model S was truly driverless, the incident suggests that the occupants misunderstood the autopilot, Complete self-driving, or both. It has long been feared that customers overestimate technology and assume that they can take their hands off the steering wheel or even leave the driver’s seat completely. However, even the beta of FSD doesn’t offer full range, and you have to be prepared to take control at all times – the car will ask you to get behind the wheel if you leave it alone long enough.
The accident also reminds us that emergency teams have not yet fully adapted to electric cars and their large lithium batteries. Constable Herman said it took about four hours for first responders to put out the Model S fire and the team even reached out to Tesla for help. That doesn’t make EVs more dangerous by design, but it does suggest that it might be some time before firefighters can handle these cars as quickly as their gas-powered counterparts.
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