NTSB updates on fatal Model X crash

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

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

The location of the SCI smart cushion crash attenuator system is also identified. The NTSB confirmed that in its preliminary report today.

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

"(Our) preliminary review indicates that the navigation system of the Tesla may have misread the lane lines on the roadway, failed to detect the concrete median, failed to brake the auto and drove the vehicle into the median", Minami said. Two other vehicles were damaged in the incident, with one driver suffering minor injuries. The electric vehicle's 400-volt lithium ion battery was breached and caught fire, according to the NTSB report. Huang was pulled from the vehicle and was pronounced dead at a hospital.

For the last 18 minutes, 55 seconds of the driver's 32-minute trip, Autopilot was "engaged" the entire time, NTSB said.

"These alerts were made more than 15 minutes prior to the crash", according to the report.

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.

A Tesla spokesperson declined to comment but pointed me to its March blog post, where the company describes how the driver's hands were not detected on the wheel for the six seconds prior to the collision.

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In April, a Tesla Model S that struck a firetruck in Utah while in Autopilot mode may also have sped up before impact. The NTSB said Huang's vehicle sped up from 62 miles per hour to 70.8 miles per hour in the last three seconds prior to the crash. There was no braking or evasive steering detected prior to impact. Investigators will study the fire that broke out after the crash.

But has started to correct the production issue, by meeting demands, through increased volume, says Elon Musk, the Chief Executive in Tesla. "It is not a self-driving system", he told CBS.

Huang's family attorneys say that they believe Tesla's Autopilot function is defective, according to CBS news. "The focus is on what led to this crash and how do we prevent it from happening again".

Tesla may finally be getting its Model 3 production issues under control, but factory problems are far from the only headaches the company has dealt with lately. Elon Musk had stated before that Model Y will feature similar "Falcon Wing" doors that are a signature feature on the Tesla Model X. Musk said that the free trial may be offered "within the next couple months", but didn't say if it's going to be a month-long trial like before. The NTSB's investigation of the crash is ongoing.

These details are based off of a preliminary investigation.

But the report does not draw an explicit conclusion about the cause of the crash.

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