Two men, aged 59 and 70, passed away after a Tesla Model S, which was believed to be operating without anyone in the driver’s seat, crashed into a tree on Saturday night north of Houston. “There was no one in the driver’s seat," Sgt. Cinthya Umanzor of the Harris County Constable Precinct 4 said. The 2019 Tesla Model S was travelling at speeds when it failed to negotiate a corner and went off the road, after which it crashed into a tree and burst into flames, a local television station said.
After the fire was extinguished, the authorities pulled out two occupants from the vehicle, with one in the front passenger seat while the other was in the back seat of the Tesla Model S, Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman’s report said. Tesla and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not respond to a request for a comment on the incident.
The accident comes in the midst of growing scrutiny over Tesla’s semi-automated driving system following recent crashes, with the automaker preparing to roll out its updated “full self-driving” software to more customers. The U.S auto safety agency said in March that it has opened 27 investigations into Tesla vehicle crashes, with at least three of the crashes occurring recently.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk stated in January that he expects massive profits from the new full self-driving software, stating he is “highly confident the car will be able to drive itself with reliability in excess of human this year." However, to achieve commercial success, self-driving technology has to overcome safety and regulatory hurdles first.
The Tesla Model S has recently received an update for 2021 and is available in three variants, Long Range, Plaid, and Plaid+. All variants use a 100 kWh battery pack which powers two motors in the Long Range and three motors in the other two trims. Claimed range in a single charge for all three variants is over 600 kilometres. The dual-motor Long Range version claims a 0-100 time of just 3.1 seconds, which drops to around 2.5 seconds for the Plaid variant. Lastly, the flagship Plaid+ claims a 0-100 kmph time of under 1.99 seconds.
Words By - Chandrutpal Kashyap