Tesla accelerated, didn't brake ahead of fatal crash
08 June, 2018, 13:17 | Author: Kathy Ellis
The preliminary report issued by National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on Thursday says that data collected from the auto indicates that Huang had been using the semi-autonomous Autopilot feature for 18 minutes and 55 seconds prior to the accident. It hit the divider at that speed without braking or making any evasive steering maneuvers, according to the NTSB report. Eight seconds before the crash, "the Tesla was following a lead vehicle and was traveling about 65 miles per hour", the speed limit, according to the NTSB.
The NTSB's preliminary report on the crash of a Tesla Model X on U.S. Highway 101 in the bay area suburb of Mountain View, Calif., indicates that Huang had the vehicle in it's semi-autonomous autopilot mode for almost 19 minutes before the crash.
The triangular gore area is marked by white lines to show the divide between the exit ramp and the thru lanes on the highway, but the Tesla sped through the gore area and slammed head-on into a previously damaged crash attenuator at the end of a concrete median barrier, at a speed of about 71 miles per hour.
Telsa executives - who have been locked in a clash with the NTSB that left them outside the federal investigation - did not immediately comment on the findings, instead pointing to a blog post from March that notes the safety benefits of the company's technology. The Tesla's driver was found belted in his seat and bystanders removed him from the vehicle before it was engulfed in flames.
Huang was using Tesla's Autopilot system continuously for almost 19 minutes prior to the crash.
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At 4 seconds prior to the crash, the Tesla was no longer following a lead vehicle. Huang's hands were detected on the wheel three times in the 60 seconds before the crash, though his hands were not detected on the wheel for the six seconds before the collision. Tesla, however, previously said it has no record of Huang complaining about Autopilot. The attenuator had been damaged 11 days earlier in a previous accident and hadn't been repaired, according to NTSB.
The report raised an issue for Tesla vehicles with Autopilot, as well as other vehicles with adaptive cruise control, said Bryant Walker Smith, an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law.
Following CEO Elon Musk's announcement that the company should meet its Model 3 production goal of 5,000 cars per week this month (as well as a handful of other updates at the annual meeting), Tesla's stock price spiked 9.74% on Wednesday. "The focus is on what led to this crash and how do we prevent it from happening again". Drivers are expected to keep their hands on the wheel and engaged at all times when the feature is activated. NTSB, along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a regulatory agency that can seek recalls and fine automakers, are investigating that crash.
Investigators said that the Model X didn't attempt to brake or steer clear of the crash.
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