Elon Musk denies Autopilot was activated in fatal Tesla crash with 'no one driving'

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Hannah Boland
·2 min read
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Tesla car
Tesla car

Elon Musk has claimed that Autopilot was not enabled in a Tesla car involved in a fatal accident in which "no one" appeared to be driving.

Two men were killed after they crashed into a tree in a Tesla electric car on Saturday in Austin, Texas.

Replying to a Twitter thread on the accident, Mr Musk said: “Data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled and this car did not purchase FSD [full self driving].

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

Local police in Texas said the car, a 2019 Model S, had been travelling at high speed and had failed to navigate a turn.

Harris County precinct constable Mark Herman said authorities were "very confident just with the positioning of the bodies after the impact that there was no one driving that vehicle". One victim had been found in the front passenger seat and the other in the back of the vehicle.

Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which regulates vehicle safety, and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) both said they would investigate.

Tesla -  SCOTT J. ENGLE
Tesla - SCOTT J. ENGLE

According to local reports, authorities had to contact Tesla for advice on how to put out the blaze, which burned for four hours and required 30,000 gallons of water to extinguish.

The crash is expected to revive scrutiny over Tesla, which has faced questions around the safety of its battery packs and its driver-assist functions.

In 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an investigation into allegations of battery defects in older Tesla models which could put them at risk of setting on fire.

Tesla has argued that its vehicles are 10 times less likely to catch on fire than petrol cars.

The company has also batted off concerns over its autopilot functions, which allow the vehicles to take some control over acceleration, steering and braking.

The National Transportation Safety Board last year said it was "time to stop enabling drivers in any partially automated vehicle to pretend that they have driverless cars”.

A petition sent to the agency early last year claimed that sudden unintended acceleration in Tesla cars had allegedly resulted in more than 100 crashes and 50 injuries - something rejected by Tesla as "completely false".

Last week, Tesla boss Elon Musk said his vehicles almost had a "ten times lower" chance of an accident when they had their autopilot engaged than normal cars.