Elon Musk says Tesla that crashed with nobody in driver's seat was not using Autopilot

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TSLAA Tesla logo on a Model S is photographed inside of a Tesla dealership in New York.Lucas Jackson | Reuters

On Monday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted a denial that his company’s automated driving systems were involved in a fatal crash in Spring, Texas.

Two federal agencies, the NHTSA and the NTSB, are investigating the crash now.

Local police said in multiple press interviews that, apparently, nobody was behind the wheel of the 2019 Tesla Model S when it veered off the road, hit a tree and burst into flames according to their preliminary investigations.

Musk wrote in his tweet on Monday: “Data logs recovered so far show Autopilot was not enabled & this car did not purchase FSD. Moreover, standard Autopilot would require lane lines to turn on, which this street did not have.”

Tesla sells its automated driving systems under the brand monikers Autopilot and Full Self-Driving (FSD). It also releases a “beta” version of Full Self Driving (FSD beta) software to some customers who have the premium FSD option, which costs $10,000.

Tesla Autopilot and FSD are not capable of controlling the electric vehicles in all normal driving circumstances, and the company’s owners manuals caution drivers to only use them with “active supervision.”

Autopilot, which is now standard in Tesla vehicles, does not always perfectly identify lane markers– for example, it can confuse sealed cracks in the road or bike lanes with other lane markers.

The system can also be misused or abused by drivers. A teen driver recently demonstrated in a stunt video he shared on social media that he could leave the drivers’ seat with his Tesla’s Autopilot system remaining in use.