A self-driving Tesla reportedly crashed and caught fire Saturday in Texas, killing two men inside.
Based on forensic evidence and interviews with witnesses, officials were led “to believe no one was driving the vehicle at the time of the crash,” Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman said to The New York Times. The 2019 Tesla Model S was reportedly traversing a curve at a “high rate of speed” at 11:25 p.m. when it went about 100 feet off the road and collided with a tree, Herman said.
The crash happened around 30 miles north of Houston in the Woodlands. One of the men was seated in the front passenger seat at the time, and the other in the back. Herman said the men’s wives saw them leave minutes before the crash and heard them talking about the electric vehicle’s autopilot feature. (RELATED: China Restricts Tesla Use Over National Security, Data Collection Concerns: Report)
Herman added that law enforcement had been in contact with Tesla but did not disclose what the conversations were about. Company founder Elon Musk tweeted early Saturday, before the crash, about a new safety report which found that autopiloted Teslas are approaching a crash risk 10 times lower than human-driven vehicles.
Tesla with Autopilot engaged now approaching 10 times lower chance of accident than average vehicle https://t.co/6lGy52wVhC
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 17, 2021
Tesla’s autopilot feature is not intended to make the vehicle fully autonomous. According to the automaker’s website, “current Autopilot features require active driver supervision and do not make the vehicle autonomous.”