- One of the two men killed after a Tesla crash in Texas was identified as Dr. William Varner.
- Police suggested no one was driving, but Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, said the car was not on Autopilot.
- Police said they would seek to get data from Tesla.
One of the two men killed after a Tesla crashed near Houston has been identified as Dr. William Varner, local media reported.
The second victim has not yet been identified.
Officials have suggested that there was no one in the driver’s seat, but Elon Musk, Tesla’s CEO, said the car was not on Autopilot.
Authorities said that the Tesla Model S went off a road, crashed into a tree, and burst into flames. They added that it appeared no one was driving the car.
But Musk tweeted on Monday that reviewed data logs showed that the car wasn’t using Tesla’s Autopilot feature. He also said its owner had not purchased the carmaker’s more advanced driver-assistance suite, “Full Self-Driving.”
Mark Herman, a senior police officer in Harris County, told Reuters that police plan to serve warrants to get data on the crash.
Varner is listed as a medical director at the Memorial Hermann Surgery in The Woodlands, Texas, an affluent Houston suburb.
When switched on, Autopilot keeps a car centered in its lane and maintains a steady distance from other vehicles, but it doesn’t make cars autonomous. Similarly, “Full Self-Driving” mode automates some driving tasks, but still requires a driver’s full attention.
The electric-car maker has received criticism for not doing enough to make sure drivers are using Autopilot correctly. The system requires drivers to have a hand on the wheel and have their seat belt fastened, but it doesn’t monitor driver attention as some similar systems do.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are both looking into the incident, they said on Monday. NHTSA is investigating Autopilot’s role in more than 20 recent Tesla crashes.