Driverless Tesla Model S crashes in Texas, killing both passengers

Harris County District 4 police said they were `` 100% sure no one was in control '' when a 2019 Tesla S crashed just before midnight on Saturday in a Houston suburb.

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Officials said the battery inside Tesla caught fire after the collision, sparking a fire that burned for four hours before it could go out.

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A Tesla Inc. electric car that “no one” appeared to be driving crashed Saturday night in Texas, exploding into flames and killing the two passengers, local officials said.

One victim was found in the front passenger seat of a 2019 Model S and the other in the back, Constable Mark Herman in Harris County District 4 said in a telephone interview. The car crashed into a tree north of Houston after traveling at high speed and failing to make a turn.

The positions of the victims, statements and other physical evidence suggest that “no one was driving the vehicle at the time of impact,” Herman said. “He is still under investigation.”

Herman said his office was coordinating with federal authorities, without specifying which ones, and was unsure if the autopilot feature was on.

Officials in Houston said the battery inside Tesla caught fire after the collision, sparking a fire that burned for four hours and required more than 113,562 gallons of water to extinguish.

“Our office has never experienced an accident scene like this,” Herman told KHOU. “Normally when the firefighters arrive they have a vehicle under control within minutes, but it has gone on for hours.

Video footage of the crash scene captured by KHOU showed the vehicle’s smoking frame, with nearly all of its exterior and interior structures destroyed by the fire.

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Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Sunday. On Monday, the company’s shares fell 2% in US pre-market trading.

Federal officials have criticized Tesla for the fire risks associated with the batteries in its cars and for not doing enough to prevent drivers from using its driver assistance feature inappropriately. At a hearing last year, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board said, “It’s time to stop allowing drivers of any partially automated vehicle to pretend they have driverless cars.

The NTSB, which has investigated many of Tesla’s previous crashes, has no plans to open a new investigation into the latest incident, spokesman Chris O’Neil said.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has defended his company’s vehicle safety record. This week, he shared a report on Twitter, claiming that a Tesla with autopilot engaged now approaches a “10 times lower” crash probability than the average vehicle.

With additional reporting from the Washington Post

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