WILLISTON (Florida) • A digital video disc player was found in the Tesla car that was on Autopilot when its driver was killed in a collision with a truck in May, Florida Highway Patrol officials said on Friday.
Whether the portable DVD player was operating at the time of the crash has not been determined, however, and witnesses who came upon the wreckage of the 2015 Tesla Model S sedan gave differing accounts about whether the player was showing a movie.
Questions of why the car did not stop to give way to a turning truck, and whether the victim, Mr Joshua Brown, was watching the road are critical for Tesla Motors.
The Palo Alto luxury electric carmaker is facing a preliminary inquiry by federal regulators over the safety of the Model S Autopilot system that was engaged at the time of the May 7 crash in Williston, Florida.
It could be weeks if not months before officials make a final determination on the cause of the crash.
Mr Robert VanKavelaar, who lives on the property where Mr Brown's car came to rest some 270m from the intersection where the crash occurred, said he could hear the DVD player when he approached the wreckage 15 minutes after the crash.
A highway patrol officer on the scene told Mr VanKavelaar that a Harry Potter movie was showing on the DVD player.
But another witness, Mr Terence Mulligan, said he arrived at the scene before the first Florida state patrol officer and that "there was no movie playing". "There was no music. I was at the car. Right at the car," Mr Mulligan said.
Sergeant Kim Montes of the Florida Highway Patrol said there was a portable DVD player in the vehicle, but would not elaborate further.