The Tesla logo is seen on a car in Los Angeles, California, U.S., July 9, 2020.  REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

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The top US safety regulator will investigate a fatal incident involving a Tesla that crashed into a tree with nobody in the driver’s seat on Saturday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it will review the incident in an emailed statement to Insider on Monday. 

“NHTSA is aware of the tragic crash involving a Tesla vehicle outside of Houston, Texas. NHTSA has immediately launched a Special Crash Investigation team to investigate the crash,” the agency said. “We are actively engaged with local law enforcement and Tesla to learn more about the details of the crash and will take appropriate steps when we have more information.”

The incident happened on Saturday night in Spring, Texas, when a Tesla failed to make a turn and careened off the road, smashing into a tree and bursting into flames, local television station KHOU reported. First responders found the bodies of two men inside the scorched car — one in the front passenger’s seat and one in the back seat, the outlet reported. 

Investigators determined that nobody was driving the car when it crashed, police told KHOU. 

“They are 100% certain that no one was in the driver seat driving that vehicle at the time of impact,” Harris County Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman told KHOU. “They feel very confident just with the positioning of the bodies after the impact that there was no one driving that vehicle.”

NHTSA is already investigating the role of Autopilot — Tesla’s advanced driver-assistance system — in more than 20 recent crashes. It’s not known yet if Autopilot was engaged at the time of the crash.

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Autopilot automates some driving tasks, but it doesn’t make Teslas drive themselves, despite its branding. Tesla has attracted criticism over the years for the way it markets Autopilot, and for the ways that some drivers abuse the system. Numerous videos have surfaced online of people sleeping in the driver’s seat or otherwise not paying attention to the road, despite Tesla’s disclaimer that the system requires full driver attention. 

Tesla did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment. 

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Source:: Business Insider


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