Two men have died after a Tesla vehicle – thought to have been operating without anyone in the driver’s seat – crashed into a tree in Texas, authorities say.
“There was no one in the driver’s seat,” Cinthya Umanzor of the Harris County Constable Precinct 4 said.
The 2019 Tesla Model S was travelling fast when it failed to negotiate a curve and went off the road, crashing into a tree and bursting into flames, local television station KHOU-TV said.
After the fire was extinguished, authorities found two occupants in the vehicle. One was in the car’s front passenger seat while the other was in the back seat, the report said, citing Constable Mark Herman.
Tesla and the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The accident came amid growing scrutiny over Tesla’s semi-automated driving system following recent accidents and as it is preparing to launch its updated “full self-driving” software to more customers.
The US car safety agency said in March it had opened 27 investigations into crashes of Tesla vehicles; at least three of the crashes occurred recently.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk said in January that he expected huge profits from its full self-driving software, saying he was “highly confident the car will be able to drive itself with reliability in excess of human this year”.
The self-driving technology must overcome safety and regulatory hurdles to achieve commercial success.
Ms Umanzor said the two crash victims were born in 1962 and 1951.