Elon Musk denies ‘autopilot’ was in use during deadly Tesla crash

The remains of a Tesla vehicle are seen after it crashed in The Woodlands, Texas (Reuters)
The remains of a Tesla vehicle are seen after it crashed in The Woodlands, Texas (Reuters)

Elon Musk has denied that the Tesla ‘autopilot’ feature was in use during a deadly crash involving one of the electric cars in Texas.

Two men were killed when the Tesla Model S burst into flames after hitting a tree.

Local police said the Model S was travelling fast and failed to navigate a turn before running off the road.

Initial reports suggested the autopilot feature may have been in use and nobody was sitting in the driving seat at the time of the crash. Tesla’s much-vaunted autopilot option gives its cars semi-autonomous driving functionality.

However, Musk says that data retrieved from the car revealed autopilot was not being used. The company has launched an internal probe into the crash and has received data logs from the destroyed vehicle.

In a tweet yesterday, the billionaire CEO of Tesla, stated: “Data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled … Moreover, standard Autopilot would require lane lines to turn on, which this street did not have.”

Police in Texas investigating the crash will serve Tesla a warrant to obtain the data logs and determine for themselves whether the autopilot was engaged.

Shares in the electric car company dropped 6.5% in New York as news of the fiery crash emerged.

The remains of a Tesla vehicle are seen after it crashed in The Woodlands, Texas, April 17, 2021, in this still image from video obtained via social media. Video taken April 17, 2021. SCOTT J. ENGLE via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT.
Police are investigating whether the Tesla’s autopilot feature was engaged during the crash (Reuters)

Harris County constable Mark Herman said there was a person in the front passenger seat and another in the rear, and they are certain no one was driving.

‘They feel very confident just with the positioning of the bodies after the impact that there was no-one driving that vehicle,’ he told KHOU-TV.

The station reported the victims were aged 69 and 59, and a relative said it took four hours to extinguish the blaze.

Authorities said the vehicle’s batteries repeatedly reignited and they had to call Tesla to ask how to put the fire out.

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