Autopilot was engaged during deadly Tesla crash in March

08 June, 2018, 07:11 | Author: Eric Barnett
  • The logo on 2018 Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle is shown in Cardiff California

As the NTSB notes, eight seconds prior to the crash the Tesla was following a lead vehicle and traveling at around 65 miles per hour (104 km/h).

While the driver wasn't keeping his hands on the steering wheel, it appears the Autopilot system steered the crossover into the concrete barrier. Bystanders pulled Huang from the wreckage before the fire engulfed the auto, and he died later at a hospital.

In a shareholders' meeting this week, Tesla CEO Elon Musk didn't directly answer questions about the safety of its Autopilot system, but said that a significant revision would be pushed to cars next week. At 7 seconds, the Model X began moving left while still following a lead vehicle.

Tesla's owner's manual warns drivers that the system may not detect stationary objects when traveling at higher speeds. "All aspects of the crash remain under investigation as the NTSB determines the probable cause, with the intent of issuing safety recommendations to prevent similar crashes", the report said. Earlier today, the NTSB published its preliminary report on the events surrounding the fatal crash.

After the accident, which took the life of the driver, had gathered a lot of media attention and scrutiny from the NTSB, Tesla released a detailed report of what it thought happened based on the vehicle's data logs.


Last month, a Model S traveling in Southern California hit an unoccupied parked police vehicle while reportedly using Autopilot, prompting some calls that Tesla should stop marketing its cars as "self-driving".

The National Transportation Safety Board's preliminary report on the crash gives a second-by-second account of the Model X's behavior as it approached the exit from southbound USA 101 to Highway 85.

The crash attenuator was already severely damaged from a prior traffic incident, and this likely increased the amount of damage suffered by the Tesla and by its driver, who later succumbed to his injuries at a local hospital.

Shortly after the March 23 crash that killed Huang, Tesla released a statement that said "the only way for this accident to have occurred is if Mr. Huang was not paying attention to the road". Tesla vehicles also have an automatic emergency braking feature that is created to slow a vehicle to avoid or lessen the impact of a collision. The driver in that crash sustained only minor injuries. The driver told authorities the Autopilot was working at the time. The NTSB's preliminary report provided details about the circumstances leading up the accident, as well as observations about the all-electric SUV's battery pack five days after the crash.

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