Tesla has been leading the charge in automotive innovation for the last couple of years now, and while some of the technological advancements pioneered by Tesla have received rave reviews, others have been the target of controversy. One of Tesla’s more controversial developments has been its Autopilot feature. Sadly, too many drivers have mistaken Tesla Autopilot for a fully autonomous driving system. This has caused several unfortunate tragedies, like the one that happened in Houston, Texas over the weekend.
Two men, aged 59 and 69, were killed after the 2019 Tesla Model S they were traveling in crashed into a tree and burst into flames. According to Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman, initial investigations conducted by deputies showed that “no one was driving.”
Deputies added that the Model S, with Autopilot activated, was traveling at high speeds when it failed to navigate a cul-de-sac turn, ran off the road, and hit a tree. That’s when the car ignited.
According to the brother-in-law of one of the victims, the two men were best friends taking the Tesla for a drive. The owner of the Tesla backed out of a driveway, and then potentially hopped in the back seat after engaging Autopilot. The crash occurred only a few hundred yards down the road. The owner was found in the back seat, while the second victim was found in the passenger seat.
Firefighters used 32,000 gallons of water to try and put out the flames, but initial reports showed that the battery kept re-igniting, and the fire continued to burn for four hours. Herman added that deputies had to actually call Tesla to ask them how to extinguish the battery fire.