Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

NTSB releases preliminary report on fatal Tesla crash on Autopilot

NTSB releases preliminary report on fatal Tesla crash on Autopilot

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

Tesla's Autopilot mode is created to match the speed of a slower vehicle traveling ahead of it. "The Tesla was no longer following a lead vehicle four seconds before the crash", the report notes.

While that claim has been confirmed by a preliminary report released by the NTSB today, it appears that there's more to the story than meets the eye. Among the information Tesla released was that the driver did not have his hands on the wheel during the final 6 seconds leading up to the accident - information that has been reiterated in the NTSB's preliminary report. Its adaptive cruise control was set at 75 miles-per-hour.

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. That left the vehicle in a so-called "gore area", a triangular region of pavement between highway lanes and an exit ramp. In the minute before the accident, his hands were on the wheel for a total 34 seconds, but not in the last six seconds before he struck a crash attenuator and concrete barrier on US-101 in Mountain View, California, the report said. Among other factors, investigators are trying to determine how the car's camera, radar and ultrasonic sensors were working and what they were tracking. These alerts occurred 15 minutes before the crash.

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Tesla's system may have a problem spotting or stopping for stationary objects.

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.

In January, a Tesla Model S sedan that may have been using Autopilot hit a parked firetruck on Interstate 405 near Los Angeles. The driver-assist feature was engaged for the last 18 minutes 55 seconds before the collision. NTSB, along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a regulatory agency that can seek recalls and fine automakers, are investigating that crash. The driver of the vehicle told police she thought the Tesla's automatic emergency braking system would detect traffic and stop before the auto hit another vehicle. Autopilot was in use when the auto hit a stopped fire department truck.

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