Story at a glance

  • Police in Harris County said the position of the bodies in the wreck appeared to indicate that no one was in the driver’s seat of the Model S at the time of the accident.
  • Authorities are investigating whether the car’s advanced Autopilot driver assistance system was activated at the time.
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Monday tweeted that data logs showed the car wasn’t running on Autopilot and was not equipped with the automaker’s beta semi-automated driver assistance system dubbed Full Self-Driving.

Authorities in Texas will serve electric car manufacturer Tesla with a search warrant to secure and investigate data related to a deadly crash over the weekend, according to Reuters

A Tesla vehicle went off the road and hit a tree in the Houston area on Saturday, causing the car to burst into flames and leaving two men dead. Firefighters spent hours trying to put out the flames as the vehicle’s lithium ion batteries kept reigniting the blaze. 


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Police in Harris County said the position of the bodies in the wreck appeared to indicate that no one was in the driver’s seat of the Model S at the time of the accident as one man was sitting in the passenger seat and the other in the back seat. 

Authorities are investigating whether the car’s advanced Autopilot driver assistance system was activated at the time. 

Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Monday tweeted that data logs showed the car wasn’t running on Autopilot and was not equipped with the automaker’s beta semi-automated driver assistance system dubbed Full Self-Driving (FSD).

“Data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled & this car did not purchase FSD,” Musk tweeted. 

“Moreover, standard Autopilot would require lane lines to turn on, which this street did not have.” 

Reuters reports Harris County Constable Mark Herman, who is leading the investigation, said the tweet was the first time officials heard about the data. 

“If he is tweeting that out, if he has already pulled the data, he hasn’t told us that,” Herman told Reuters. “We will eagerly wait for the data. 

“We have witness statements from people that said they left to test drive the vehicle without a driver and to show the friend how it can drive itself,” Herman said. 

The electric vehicle maker’s Autopilot system allows the cars to brake, accelerate and steer automatically, among other capabilities, but Tesla says the feature does not make the car fully autonomous and that it still requires driver supervision. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating more than two dozen accidents involving Tesla vehicles and the car maker’s Autopilot system has come under scrutiny following recent crashes. 

Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Changing America. The Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office told Changing America more information would be released later Tuesday. 


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Published on Apr 20, 2021