Tesla on autopilot sped up before fatal solo crash in March

Tesla Model X sped up in Autopilot mode seconds before fatal crash, according to NTSB

The National Transportation Safety Board's initial reportalso stated that the vehicle, a Tesla (TSLA) Model X, had the Autopilot function engaged ahead of the March 23 crash.

The investigation is ongoing and could lead to the NTSB issuing new safety recommendations aimed at preventing similar accidents.

In April, the NTSB removed Tesla as a party to its investigation of Huang's crash after the automaker made public statements.

Four seconds before the crash, the Tesla's on-board computer was no longer following that vehicle, and three seconds before the crash it sped up from 62 miles per hour to 70.8 miles per hour.

Seven seconds before the crash, the Tesla, still following the auto ahead, "began a left steering movement".

Huang was still belted into the driver's seat but bystanders rescued him from the vehicle before it was consumed by flames.

Huang was using Tesla's Autopilot system continuously for almost 19 minutes prior to the crash.

The NTSB's preliminary report on the crash adds to questions that have been raised about the safety of Tesla's Autopilot technology.

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.

The driver's hands were on the wheel for about 34 of the last 60 seconds before impact, the report states, and they were not detected on the wheel at all in the final six seconds.

Tesla's Autopilot is a driver assistance system that handles some driving tasks and allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel.

Two consumer advocacy groups charged May 23 that Tesla's promotional material on Autopilot are deceptive. Among other factors, investigators are trying to determine how the car's camera, radar and ultrasonic sensors were working and what they were tracking.

Questions have been raised about the Tesla autopilot system's ability to detect stopped or stationary objects in other crashes. "The focus is on what led to this crash and how do we prevent it from happening again".

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". Drivers are expected to keep their hands on the wheel and engaged at all times when the feature is activated.

The report concluded that the Tesla did not attempt to brake or steer clear of the barrier. The woman sustained minor injuries.

"It is the driver's responsibility to drive safely and remain in control of the vehicle at all times", the manual says. Following the collision, the Tesla rotated counterclockwise and the front portion of the vehicle separated from the rest of the Model X. The crossover was also involved in subsequent collisions with a 2017 Audi A4 and a 2010 Mazda 3.

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