THE WOODLANDS, Texas – While the design is simple, Tesla owner Michael Fowler said the vehicle comes equipped with intricate safety features.
Some Tesla’s, like his Model 3, include full self-driving capabilities.
“This is your display, it controls everything in the car,” Fowler said as he demonstrated the features of his car. “You can see with the full self-driving hardware. It’s actually able to detect stop signs, stoplights.”
Investigators said a Tesla that crashed into the woods and killed two men Saturday night was driverless, but Fowler said the feature makes it impossible for the car to drive itself without someone behind the wheel.
“I can actually turn on auto-steer and now the car is following the road, essentially,” Fowler said. “Now, if I left my hands off for a period of time, see it says ‘Apply slight force to the steering wheel.’ If I don’t grab the wheel, at this point, it’s going to stop.”
Fowler said the car won’t operate without the driver wearing their seatbelt.
“It puts you in time-out for autopilot purposes,” Fowler said.
The car also obeys the speed limit, switches lanes and veers away from obstacles.
On Monday, Tesla CEO Elon Musk sent a tweet about Saturday’s crash, which said, in part: “Data logs so far show autopilot was not enabled, and this car did not purchase FSD (full self-driving.) Moreover, the standard autopilot would require standard lane lines to turn on which this street did not have.”
Precinct 4 Constable Mark Herman said he has subpoenaed the data files from Tesla.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration said it’s working with law enforcement and Tesla to learn more about the details of the crash, and the National Transportation Safety Board said it’s also investigating.