Tesla accelerated, didn't brake ahead of fatal crash

Roman Schwartz
June 8, 2018

Investigators said the Tesla slowed from 75 miles per hour to 65 miles per hour behind a slow-moving vehicle that struck the barrier at 71 miles per hour, which sheered off part of the auto. Bystanders pulled Huang from the wreckage before the fire engulfed the auto, and he died later at a hospital.

A Tesla SUV using the company's semi-autonomous Autopilot driving system accelerated just before crashing into a California freeway barrier, killing its driver, federal investigators have determined.

At 7 seconds prior to the crash, the Tesla began a left steering movement while following a lead vehicle.

Tesla's owner's manual warns drivers that the system may not detect stationary objects when traveling at higher speeds. At this point, the NTSB has yet to determine a probable cause of the crash and is continuing to investigate the accident. And last month, a Tesla Model S in autopilot mode hit a stopped fire department vehicle in Salt Lake City. In that report, investigators said the car's Autopilot system actually increased speed in the moments leading up to the crash and didn't attempt to brake or steer clear of the barrier.

Huang also had the Tesla's cruise control set at 75 miles per hour, but the auto was traveling slower than that because of another vehicle in front of it. Back in April, the NTSB announced that Tesla had been taken off of the investigation for releasing information before it could be vetted and confirmed.

The blog post states: "The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken".

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"According to performance data downloaded from the crash vehicle, a 2017 Tesla Model X P100D, the driver was using traffic-aware cruise control and autosteer lane-keeping assistance, which are advanced driver assistance features that Tesla refers to as autopilot", the NTSB report said.

Bystanders removed Huang from the auto before its battery pack caught fire, and he was transported to a nearby hospital where he died later from his injuries. 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. Some say it lulls drivers into a false sense of security, making them vulnerable to a crash.

The Tesla was following a lead vehicle at about 105 km/h roughly 8 seconds prior to the crash. "It is the driver's responsibility to drive safely and remain in control of the vehicle at all times", it says.

"Tesla Autopilot does not prevent all accidents - such a standard would be impossible - but it makes them much less likely to occur", the blog post reads.

On March 28, 5 days after the accident, the Model X's battery pack reignited.

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