Elon Musk has asserted the car was not on autopilot.
Over the weekend, two people were killed in a Tesla Model S crash in Spring, Texas. According to witnesses, the car went off the road, crashed into a tree, and burst into flames. The two people were in the car’s front passenger seat and one of the rear seats, which has lead authorities to believe that the car was operating using Tesla’s autopilot features. Today, one of the two passengers has been identified by local coroners as Dr. William Varner, a doctor employed by the local Memorial Hermann health system. The second passenger has not yet been identified.
While authorities and witnesses have asserted that nobody was in the driver’s seat of the vehicle, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has countered with his own assertions that the car was not using Tesla’s autopilot features. Not only that, but according to the data logs recovered by Tesla, the car’s owner hadn’t even purchased autopilot features for the vehicle, known as “Full Self-Driving.” Police are currently in the process of drafting warrants to obtain more data about the crash, the car, the passengers, and any other pertinent details.
This incident has prompted widespread criticism of Tesla, with complaints that the company has not performed extensive-enough testing on its self-driving features and that there aren’t enough safety precautions to ensure the features are being used properly. Currently, in order to use a Tesla’s autopilot features, the driver must have their seatbelt fastened and at least one hand on the steering wheel. However, if the Tesla involved in the accident really did not have autopilot features activated as Musk alleges, it will likely complicate the case further.