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Tesla Crash In Texas Leaves 2 Dead

A crash with a Tesla Model S left two men dead in Texas, Reuters reports, quoting local police authorities that said the car was driverless.

"There was no one in the driver's seat," said a sergeant from the Harris County police.

According to a local TV station also quoted in the report, the Model S was moving fast, failed to navigate a curve, and went off the road, hitting a tree and exploding.

Tesla has repeatedly warned drivers, following crashes where the driver blamed the Autopilot, that the system does not turn the vehicle into a self-driving car. Meanwhile, CEO Elon Musk has advertised the full self-driving mode of Teslas, which, taken literally, does seem to suggest that it can operate as a fully autonomous vehicle.

In January, Musk said he expected solid profits from the Tesla "full self-driving" software as the company planned to make it available to more customers.

The crash adds to a grim tally of crashes involving Teslas in self-driving mode. This has prompted the National Transport Safety Board to call on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to tighten regulation on self-driving technology, noting Tesla's Autopilot as a case in point.

"Tesla recently released a beta version of its Level 2 Autopilot system, described as having full self-driving capability. By releasing the system, Tesla is testing on public roads a highly automated AV technology but with limited oversight or reporting requirements," NTSB board chairman Robert L. Sumwalt wrote in a letter to the NTSB in March. "NHTSA's hands-off approach to oversight of AV testing poses a potential risk to motorists and other road users."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened 27 investigations into crashes involving Tesla cars. Of these, at least three occurred recently. One of these happened in early March when a Tesla hit a semi-truck and got stuck under its trailer.

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By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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