Two men died after a driverless Tesla vehicle crashed into a tree on Saturday night north of Houston, authorities said.
“There was no one in the driver’s seat,” Sgt. Cinthya Umanzor of the Harris County Constable Precinct 4 said.
The 2019 Tesla Model S was traveling at a high rate of speed, when it failed to negotiate a curve and went off the roadway, crashing to a tree and bursting into flames, local television station KHOU-TV said.
After the fire was extinguished, authorities located 2 occupants in the vehicle, with one in the front passenger seat while the other was in the back seat of the Tesla, the report said.
The accident comes 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 U.S. auto safety agency said in March it has 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 expects huge profits from its full self-driving software, saying he is “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.