Tesla accelerated, didn't brake ahead of fatal crash

Irving Hamilton
June 12, 2018

When the SUV moved to the left, it entered a triangular "gore area" that is marked with white lines and divides the freeway lanes from an exit ramp. Ubergizmo argued that it's unlikely that Tesla's cars can suddenly be transformed into fully autonomous vehicles and that term could simply be a fancy marketing term for new features as opposed to its literal meaning.

According to the NTSB report, the driver did not put his hands on the steering wheel of the vehicle for six seconds prior to the crash, despite having had his hand on the wheel for 34 seconds of the preceding minute. In the seconds leading up to the crash, the vehicle sped up and didn't brake or steer away from a crash attenuator.

California, in March said the driver of the vehicle - as in the fatal crash of a Tesla Model S in 2016 - did not have his hands on the vehicle at the time of the crash.

The NTSB report notes some other significant details about the vehicle and how fast it was going. However, the last of these alerts came 15 minutes before the crash.

Buyers of Tesla's sedan or SUV, including the $140,000 Model X P100D, can pay an extra $5,000 for "Enhanced Autopilot", a package of still-experimental features that the company says could include "on-ramp to off-ramp" autonomous freeway driving.

However, the investigation also found that the vehicle not only began a left steering movement seven seconds before the crash, which resulted in its crashing directly into a "attenuator" road divider, it also speeded up at the same time. Tesla has repeatedly said Autopilot is meant to be used with an attentive driver whose hands are on the wheel, but the most visible accidents involving Autopilot have included reports of distracted drivers.

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In the days after the crash, Huang's wife Savonne said her husband had complained about the system not working properly near the area where the crash occurred.

Since January, two Tesla vehicles whose drivers were using its Autopilot system have struck the backs of stopped fire trucks, and another Tesla crashed into a roadside barrier, killing its driver. The driver in the second incident told authorities she thought Tesla's emergency braking system would stop the auto to avert a collision. A spokeswoman referred to a company blog saying that a Tesla with Autopilot is far safer than vehicles without it. "Never depend on Automatic Emergency Braking to avoid or reduce the impact of a collision".

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

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.

According to the NTSB report, the driver was using the vehicle's traffic-aware cruise control and autosteer lane-keeping assistance technology while driving on the US Highway 101, when it approached the exit to State Highway 85.

"The impact rotated the Tesla counter clockwise and caused a separation of the front portion of the vehicle", the report said. Federal agencies are investigating two other crashes in which Teslas ran into stopped fire department vehicles. "The focus is on what led to this crash and how do we prevent it from happening again".

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