Tesla accelerated, didn't brake before fatal crash

NTSB: Tesla vehicle sped up, didn't brake in California crash

The NTSB's preliminary report on the crash of a Tesla Model X on U.S. Highway 101 in the bay area suburb of Mountain View, Calif., indicates that Huang had the vehicle in its semi-autonomous autopilot mode for almost 19 minutes before the crash.

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.

As per the vehicle's programming, the Tesla provided two visual alerts and one auditory alert for the driver to place his hands on the steering wheel prior to the crash.

While bystanders were able to remove the driver from the vehicle before it was engulfed in flames, he later died in hospital from his injuries.

The Tesla Model X that slammed into a freeway barrier in California in March was operating on Tesla's Autopilot system and sped up from 62 miles per hour to about 71 miles per hour in the moments before the fatal crash, according to a report by the federal National Transportation Safety Board.

The NTSB report notes some other significant details about the vehicle and how fast it was going.

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.

The NTSB report said the vehicle had sped up from 62 miles (99 km) per hour (mph) to almost 71 mph (114 km/h) in the three seconds before the crash.

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"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 said. Directors of two consumer groups, the Center for Auto Safety and Consumer Watchdog, wrote a letter last month urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Tesla for "deceptive and unfair practices" in their advertising of what Autopilot can do.

"Tesla hasn't made sufficient changes to its system to address the NTSB's concerns, and also has never provided detailed data to the public demonstrating the conditions in which Autopilot can safely operate".

The video poster says a friend filmed the video earlier this week near Fremont, California where Tesla is based. In January, a Tesla Model S that may have been on autopilot hit a parked firetruck on Interstate 405 near Los Angeles. A spokeswoman referred to a company blog saying that a Tesla with Autopilot is far safer than vehicles without it. The SUV also was equipped with automatic emergency braking, which is always on in Tesla vehicles unless customers deactivate it by taking several steps on the vehicle touch screen.

In the report released Thursday, the NTSB said the SUV was operating with traffic-aware cruise control and autosteer lane-keeping assistance engaged at the time of the crash.

Huang's family lawyer, Mark Fong, asserts "there was a failure of both the Tesla Autopilot and the automatic braking systems of the vehicle".

Shortly after the March 23 crash that killed Huang, Tesla released a statement that said "the only way for this accident to have occurred is if Mr. Huang was not paying attention to the road".

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.

"The focus isn't Tesla's technology", he said. 'The focus is on what led to this crash and how do we prevent it from happening again'.

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