A Tesla Model S authorities reported wasn’t being operated by anyone in its driver’s seat advanced over a curb, smashed into a tree, erupted into flames and left its two occupants dead in Spring, Texas.
The crash occurred April 17 when the Model S traveling at high speed, didn’t negotiate a turn and eventually stopped after it crashed into a tree.
When the fire was extinguished, first responders found the bodies of two men, one in the front passenger’s seat, another in the back seat. Investigators at the accident said with certainty no one was in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash.
Tesla has had many Autopilot issues
The most recent deadly incident added to numerous other claims of Tesla crashes that may have involved Autopilot. It’s the carmaker’s advanced driver-assistance feature that comes standard on all of its new cars. It’s unknown if the Autopilot was switched on in the Telsa involved in the Texas crash.
Autopilot automates some highway-driving tasks, but it doesn’t make cars autonomous, despite its moniker. The electric car manufacturer has come under fire for Autopilot’s misleading name, which critics say overstates the technology’s ability and invites drivers to misuse it. The carmaker also sells a bundle of more advanced driver-assistance features called “Full Self-Driving Capability,” which also doesn’t make cars drive themselves.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating Autopilot’s role in more than 20 Tesla crashes, including multiple cars smashed into emergency vehicles stopped on the side of the road.
Neither Tesla nor NHTSA commented.
It took firefighters four hours and 32,000 gallons of water to put out the blaze because the Tesla’s batteries kept reigniting, a Texas television station reported. First responders had to call the carmaker to ask how to stop the car fired, according to the local Texas television station.