Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Business | By Tara Barton

NTSB releases preliminary report on fatal Tesla crash on Autopilot

NTSB releases preliminary report on fatal Tesla crash on Autopilot

An update from the National Transportation Safety Board indicates that the driver of the Tesla (TSLA +1.9%) Model X that crashed into a highway barrier in a fatal accident on March 23 didn't have his hands on the wheel.

Investigators said that the Model X didn't attempt to brake or steer clear of the crash. The NTSB report confirms that, but does not speculate on how that affected the severity of the crash. The alerts were made more than 15 minutes before the crash.

For the last 6 seconds before the collision, the Model X's driver did not have his hands on the steering wheel.

The NTSB said information downloaded from the auto 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 vehicle crashed.

In the 60 seconds leading up to the crash, Huang did this on three occasions covering a total of 34 seconds, but was not touching it during the six seconds before impact. Notably, the car's Autopilot feature was engaged at the time of the crash.

Then, seven seconds before the crash, the Tesla began drifting left to align with the lead auto as it headed into a left-side exit.

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At 7 seconds prior to the crash, the Tesla began a left steering movement while following a lead vehicle. There was no braking or evasive steering detected prior to impact. At 3 seconds before the accident, the Model X's speed increased from 62 miles per hour to 70.8 miles per hour. The San Mateo Fire Department extinguished the fire.

"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 added.

The logo on a 2018 Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle is shown in Cardiff, California, U.S., in this picture taken June 1, 2018.

Walter Huang, the owner of the vehicle who died as a result of the crash, had previously taken his auto into the Tesla dealership, saying his vehicle had a way of veering toward the exact barrier his vehicle hit, ABC7 reported.

The NTSB said in a preliminary report the 38-year-old driver, who died in hospital shortly after the crash, had been given two visual alerts and one auditory alert to place his hands on the steering wheel during the trip.

A spokeswoman for Tesla declined to comment on the report, but offered the company's March 30 response that pointed to the damaged highway barrier as a contributor to the severity of the crash.

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