Tesla on autopilot sped up before fatal solo crash in March

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Federal transportation investigators Thursday cited speeding and a lack of driver control in a fatal Tesla crash and fire on Highway 101 in March.

The NTSB report offerssome details about the moments leading up to the fatal impact: The Model X's autopilot was set to keep the car's speed at 75 miles per hour. In the post, the company said the driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the highway barrier but took no action to avoid the collision, citing vehicle logs.

According to NTSB, the Tesla crashed at 71mph in a section of road with a speed limit of 65mph.

The NTSB report also indicates that not only did the driver not have his hands on the steering wheel in the final six seconds before impact, but there was "no precrash braking or evasive steering movement detected".

"The consequences of the public not using Autopilot, because of an inaccurate belief that it is less safe, would be extremely severe", Tesla's March blog post said.

The agency found no evidence that the vehicle's crash-avoidance systems kicked in before the horrific crash, which sheared off the front-end of the Model X and killed its 38-year-old driver, Apple engineer Wei "Walter" Huang.

In one of the disputed statements, Tesla said "the crash happened on a clear day with several hundred feet of visibility ahead, which means that the only way for this accident to have occurred is if Mr. Huang was not paying attention to the road, despite the auto providing multiple warnings to do so". Early media reports have said that the software may have sped up before that crash too.

The report also said the Tesla driver had been given two visual and one auditory alert to place his hands on the steering wheel during the trip, but at the time of impact, his hands were not on the wheel. A second later the Tesla began veering left though it was still trailing the lead vehicle.

Tesla said earlier that "the reason this crash was so severe is because the crash attenuator, a highway safety barrier which is created to reduce the impact into a concrete lane divider, had been crushed in a prior accident without being replaced". The company claimed Huang's hands were not on the wheel for at least 6 seconds prior to the crash, despite the vehicle's repeated audible warnings.

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Two consumer advocacy groups charged May 23 that Tesla's promotional material on Autopilot are deceptive.

The NTSB originally announced it was looking into a fire that erupted in the car's battery, which was damaged in the impact.

The safety board is investigating four Tesla crashes since past year and looking at post-crash fire issues and the use of Autopilot.

"The focus isn't Tesla's technology", he said.

Disagreements between Tesla and the NTSB over the probe culminated in April when safety officials said they had revoked the electric vehicle maker's status as an official party to the investigation.

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

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in the States released data extracted from the auto involved in the March 23rd crash.

But Tesla and its CEO, Elon Musk, have slammed press reports about crashes.

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