Published: Sun, June 10, 2018
Money | By Bruce West

Tesla accelerated, didn't brake ahead of fatal crash

Tesla accelerated, didn't brake ahead of fatal crash

It likely will take more than a year to determine what caused the crash, NTSB spokesman Christopher O'Neil said Thursday. Four seconds before the crash the Tesla wasn't following a vehicle any more.

At 4 seconds prior to the crash, the Tesla was no longer following a lead vehicle.

Federal investigators in May removed Tesla from the official investigation into the California crash after the automaker seemingly blamed the driver for the crash publicly.

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.

The recently unveiled Semi truck and Roadster sports vehicle will arrive around the same time, according to Musk, both with better performance than originally announced, which included a 800-km range for the truck and a 400km/h top speed for the Roadster.

The NTSB is also investigating two other incidents involving Teslas: An accident near Los Angeles in January in which a Model S struck a fire truck parked on a freeway while the auto was on Autopilot and a Model X that crashed into a garage in August in Lake Forest, California, and its battery caught fire.

"At three seconds prior to the crash and up to the time of impact with the crash attenuator, the Tesla's speed increased from 62 to 70.8mph, with no precrash braking or evasive steering movement detected", the report notes.

Tesla has been delivering cars with Autopilot hardware installed regardless of whether the customer has bought the convenience feature package which enables its semi-autonomous driving feature.

Using the black box features of the vehicle, investigators said instruments showed that Huang had engaged the Autopilot function four times from the start of his 32-minute trip on the South Bay highway to the time of the crash. Preliminary reports indicated the Model S she was traveling in may have sped up-similar to Huang's Model X-in the moments leading up to the crash. In April, a woman in Utah crashed her Model S traveling at 60 miles per hour into a fire truck while using Autopilot. When asked by a shareholder about when the full "Enhanced Autopilot" suite - which includes the ability to change lanes without driver input, switch from one freeway to another, and exit a freeway when close to the driver's destination - would arrive, Musk said at least one new feature could be rolled out in the next few months.

Once the company said that the Autopilot system was switched on in the Mountain View crash, the safety board broadened the investigation to include the vehicle's automation.

"We believe that if this Autopilot had not been on, this accident would not have happened", Huang family attorney Mark Fong told CBS.

"Around 4:30 p.m. that afternoon, at the impound lot, the Tesla battery emanated smoke and audible venting", the report stated. Five days later the battery reignited and was extinguished by the local fire department.

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