Autopilot sped up before fatal Tesla Model X crash

The logo on 2018 Tesla Model 3 electric vehicle is shown in Cardiff California

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board issued a preliminary report on the March 23 crash showing that the driver's hands were detected on the steering wheel only 34 seconds during the last minute before impact. However, the Tesla reported it was no longer following said vehicle four seconds before the accident.

Huang was using Tesla's Autopilot system continuously for almost 19 minutes prior to the crash. In their report, the NTSB says Huang's Autopilot system sped up to 70.8 miles per hour (from 62 mph) three seconds prior to the crash, rather than slowing down or coming to a stop.

According to the NTSB, the vehicle was following another auto in front of it using Tesla's Autopilot system until about seven seconds before the impact.

The Tesla collided with a so-called crash attenuator, a device covering the concrete barrier that's created to absorb a vehicle impact to lower risks of damage and injuries. The vehicle gave Huang two visual alerts and one auditory warning to place his hands on the steering wheel during the trip, though those alerts were made more than 15 minutes before the crash. But for the last six seconds, hands were not detected on the steering wheel.

As the vehicle approached an area where two lanes diverged and became separated by a highway barrier, the vehicle moved to the left and drove on a path that would lead it directly into the barrier's crash attenuator - which is created to limit the impact from collisions - which had been damaged in another collision less than two weeks earlier.

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.

The report raised an issue for Tesla vehicles with Autopilot, as well as other vehicles with adaptive cruise control, said Bryant Walker Smith, an assistant professor at the University of South Carolina School of Law. "We have never seen this level of damage to a Model X in any other crash". 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.

According to the Associated Press, Tesla says it's vehicles and systems are not to blame; the drivers are.

The NTSB said on March 27 that two officials would conduct a field investigation into the incident.

Tesla Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk hung up on Sumwalt as he explained the removal, according to the NTSB chief.

The NTSB said in a preliminary report that driver Walter Huang, 38, had used Autopilot heavily that day.

In January, a Tesla Model S sedan that may have been using Autopilot hit a parked firetruck on Interstate 405 near Los Angeles. Autopilot was engaged and didn't brake for the truck as the driver was looking at her phone, according to police.

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