ELON Musk has blasted claims that a Tesla car crash took place while auto-pilot was engaged as one of the two victims was identified on Tuesday.
Authorities named Dr Will T. Varner, 59, as the owner of the vehicle, who died in the blaze on Saturday night after the car rammed into a tree near his Houston, Texas, mansion.
Two federal safety investigators have been launched after the anesthesiologist and an unidentified friend died in the crash while there was allegedly nobody in the driving seat.
Friends told Reuters that Varner has wanted to show his friend the auto-pilot feature on his Model S but Tesla founder Musk has hit back at these claims.
“Your research as a private individual is better than professionals,” he told a Twitter user questioning a report on the crash.
“Data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled & this car did not purchase FSD,” he added, referring to the Full Self Driving feature.
“Moreover, standard Autopilot would require lane lines to turn on, which this street did not have," Musk added.
He was speaking about a safeguard on the auto-pilot features which only allows it to function if it detects that the road is marked.
Just hours before the crash, the billionaire had also tweeted about the safety of the auto-pilot feature.
"Tesla with Autopilot engaged now approaching 10 times lower chance of accident than average vehicle,” he wrote.
Texas police are now planning to serve Tesla with search warrants to demand the data after Musk’s tweet was brought to their attention.
“If he is tweeting that out, if he has already pulled the data,” Mark Herman, Harris County Constable, told Reuters Monday night.
“He hasn’t told us that. We will eagerly wait for that data.”
Varner’s Model S exploded into flames on Saturday night after failing to make a curve in a cul-de-sac and hitting a tree.
The car had driven justafew hundred yards from his $2million home in the gated community of Carlton Woods Creekside when the accident happened at around 11.25pm, Daily Mail reports.
Cops said that they found Varner in the backseats of the car and the other man in the passenger seat.
Despite Musk’s claims that auto-pilot was not engaged, Herman said that “witness statements from people that said they left to test drive the vehicle without a driver and to show the friend how it can drive itself.”
Authorities had to use 32,000 gallons of water to put out the flames because the vehicle’s batteries kept reigniting.
At one point, deputies had to even call Tesla to ask them how to put out the fire in the battery.
Authorities will perform autopsies on both men.
This is the 28th Tesla accident to be investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which regulates vehicle safety.
It is also the third suich crash incolvedinga Tesla in just one month, the New York Post reports.
The NHTSA has raised concerns over the auto-pilot features safety as it has been linked to three fatal crashes since 2016.
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