Published: Fri, June 08, 2018
Economy | By Shawn Conner

Tesla SUV, on Autopilot, Accelerated Before Fatal Mountain View Crash

Tesla SUV, on Autopilot, Accelerated Before Fatal Mountain View Crash

The Autopilot system was engaged on four separate occasions during the 32-minute trip, including continuous operation for the last 18 minutes and 55 seconds prior to the crash.

One crash in particular in Mountain View, California, involving a Model X on a well-mapped stretch of road gave some cause for concern, enough that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) launched an investigation into it, an investigation from which Tesla was eventually excluded.

Investigators also found that the Tesla was accelerating, with the cruise control engaged, when it crashed into a highway barrier.

The Tesla struck the barrier at almost 71 miles per hour and data recovered from the dark blue Model X indicated that Huang had not touched the steering wheel in the six seconds leading up to the crash.

The Tesla Model X that crashed in California earlier this year while being guided by its semi-autonomous driving system sped up to 114 km/h in the seconds before the vehicle slammed into a highway barrier, investigators said Thursday. Autopilot uses sensors to determine when there is a vehicle in the lane ahead and adjusts the set speed lower.

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The auto went from 62 miles per hour to 70.8 miles per hour, then hit the highway barrier in California with such force that the front of the vehicle was ripped apart, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The report noted that at four seconds before impact, Model X was no longer following a vehicle in front and began to speed up. It hit the divider at that speed without braking or making any evasive steering maneuvers, according to the NTSB report.

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

Following CEO Elon Musk's announcement that the company should meet its Model 3 production goal of 5,000 cars per week this month (as well as a handful of other updates at the annual meeting), Tesla's stock price spiked 9.74% on Wednesday. Passersby pulled Huang from the wreckage moments before the vehicle burst into flames, but he later died from his injuries at a hospital.

The NTSB report relays a number of details regarding the events leading up to the crash.

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While following a lead vehicle the Tesla began a left steering movement, seven seconds before the crash.

The report also said the vehicle had sped up from 62 miles (99 km) per hour to almost 71 miles (114 km) per hour in the three seconds before the March 23 crash - and above the 65 mph (105 km per hour) speed limit. Huang's hands were detected on the wheel three times in the 60 seconds before the crash, though his hands were not detected on the wheel for the six seconds before the collision.

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

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also investigating the case of a Model S driven by a 28-year-old woman that struck a stopped fire truck on a South Jordan, Utah, roadway on May 11.

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

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A Tesla spokesperson pointed you back to Tesla's previously mentioned blog about the accident and declined to comment further. "It is the driver's responsibility to drive safely and remain in control of the vehicle at all times", it says.

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