Two men died after the Tesla they were driving in, local authorities believing had no one in the driver’s seat, crashed into a tree and caught fire in north Houston on Saturday.
Authorities said the Tesla, which was only identified as a 2019 model, was traveling at high speed and not turning properly in a dead end, pulling off the road and hitting a tree, local station. KPRC reported. There was one person in the front passenger seat of the car and in his rear passenger seat.
Mark Herman, the constable for Ward Four of Harris County, told the the Wall Street newspaper that authorities were still investigating the deployment of the front passenger seat airbag. They also determine whether the car’s driver assistance system, or autopilot, was activated at the time of the accident.
Herman said their investigation so far indicates that no one was driving the Tesla.
“Our preliminary investigation determines – but it is not yet complete – that there was no one behind the wheel of this vehicle,” Herman said. “We are almost 99.9% sure.”
The Tesla burned for hours, according to KPRC, with authorities having to use 32,000 gallons of water to put out the fire because the car’s batteries kept igniting. Law enforcement even called Tesla to ask company officials how to put out the fire caused by the batteries.
Gizmodo reached out to Tesla for comment on the incident on Sunday, but we haven’t received a response at the time of posting. We will make sure to update this blog if we do, but it should be noted that Tesla sacked his press team few months ago.
On a support page on its website dedicated to the system – which comes in two packages, Autopilot and Full Self-Driving – Tesla says its cars are not fully autonomous. Tesla goes on to say that the autopilot and full self-driving functions require “active driver supervision.”
“The autopilot and fully autonomous driving capability are intended for use with a fully attentive driver, who has their hands on the wheel and is ready to take over at any time,” Tesla says on its support page. “While these features are designed to become more efficient over time, the features currently enabled do not make the vehicle autonomous.”
Nevertheless, as pointed out Jalopnik, with names like ‘Full Self-Driving’, there is now a misconception that Tesla cars are capable of performing fully autonomous actions and that the driver is free to sleep, change seats, or stand up. hands behind the wheel for long periods of time. time. In 2018, police arrested a driver in a Tesla Model S who was drunk and asleep at the wheel with the autopilot on. The car itself was traveling 70 miles per hour.
That same year, the driver of a Tesla Model S who had activated the autopilot crashed into an empty Ford Fiesta. The driver, who said he was looking at his phone at the time of the accident, sued the company for misleading him into believing that the car could run with “minimal input and supervision.”
These cases are not isolated. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the nation’s auto safety regulator, had opened in early 2020 14 surveys in Tesla crashes involving its autopilot system.
The newspaper Remarks that Tesla’s critics say the company is not doing enough to prevent drivers from over-relying on or using its autopilot systems inappropriately. The NHTSA does not have rules that dictate how manufacturers should monitor driver engagement.