Tesla involved in fatal crash sped up before hitting road barrier

08 June, 2018, 13:16 | Author: Shannon Aguilar
  • Tesla Model X sped up in Autopilot mode seconds before fatal crash, according to NTSB

One crash in particular in Mountain View, California, involving a Model X on a well-mapped stretch of road gave some cause for concern, enough that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) launched an investigation into it, an investigation from which Tesla was eventually excluded. The NTSB had objected to Telsa making statements concerning the cause of the crash before the investigation is complete, while Telsa accused the agency of releasing incomplete information and "trying to prevent us from telling all the facts". The report also said the electric car's 400-volt battery was breached in the crash and caught fire.

The Tesla's speed increased - starting three seconds before impact and continuing until the crash - from 62 to 70.8 miles per hour.

"The consequences of the public not using Autopilot, because of an inaccurate belief that it is less safe, would be extremely severe", Tesla's March blog post said.

According to the report, during the 60 seconds before the crash, Huang's hands were detected on the steering wheel three times for a total of 34 seconds.

The NTSB said information downloaded from the vehicle showed Huang turned on the Tesla's Autopilot function four times during the 32-minute-long drive, and Autopilot was on for almost all of the final 19 minutes of the drive up until the auto crashed.

At 4 seconds prior to the crash, the Tesla was no longer following a lead vehicle.

Aside from Autopilot, the NTSB report could actually prove useful regarding the response to the fire and the state of the crash attenuator. The speed limit was 65 miles per hour, and the car's adaptive cruise control was set at 75. Then for the six seconds before the crash, the vehicle did not detect Huang's hands on the wheel.

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Tesla says it is "extremely clear that Autopilot requires the driver to be alert and have hands on the wheel".

Tesla's Autopilot feature is not fully autonomous.

Two other vehicles subsequently struck the Tesla, resulting in an additional injury.

NTSB spokesman Christopher O'Neil told the AP Thursday that, among other factors, investigators are trying to determine how the car's camera, radar and ultrasonic sensors were working and what they were tracking. A Tesla website says its vehicles have "full self-driving hardware".

Last month, police in Utah said a Tesla in Autopilot mode crashed into a parked fire truck. Notably, the car's Autopilot feature was engaged at the time of the crash. The firetruck was unoccupied and no injuries were claimed by anyone at the crash scene, authorities said. The driver in the second incident told authorities she thought Tesla's emergency braking system would stop the vehicle to avert a collision.

The Tesla collided with a so-called crash attenuator, a device covering the concrete barrier that's created to absorb a vehicle impact to lower risks of damage and injuries.

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