Tesla criticised over blaming driver again for latest crash
Apr 15 2018
Tesla has been removed from the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation into a fatal Autopilot accident that happened in March, the agency announced today. What is beyond dispute is that the Model X, in autonomous mode on March 23, slammed into a fixed concrete barrier on Highway 101 in Mountain View, the heart of Silicon Valley, killing Walter Huang.
The NTSB issued a statement dated 12 April, explaining why it chose to remove Tesla from the process: "Such releases of incomplete information often lead to speculation and incorrect assumptions about the probable cause of a crash, which does a disservice to the investigative process and the travelling public".
The automotive company has also recently released their own statement saying that they believe the driver is at fault for the Tesla Model X crash. Tesla in a statement said Walter Huang, the victim in the California crash, "was well aware that Autopilot was not ideal". The NTSB said it did so because Tesla, without permission from the NTSB, relayed information to the public regarding the investigation. But the federal agency said it had took the "rare" action of ousting Tesla from the probe. The NTSB guards the integrity of its investigations closely, demanding that participants adhere to rules about what information they can release and their expected cooperation.
Deadly crashes involving Tesla Inc and Uber Technologies vehicles operating entirely or in part under automated systems have made a once-abstract problem very real for auto industry lawyers gathered at a recent conference.
Neither Tesla nor NHTSA has released the underlying data to support the crash-rate reduction claim. To save time and cost, Tesla made the risky bet to skip a pre-production testing phase for the Model 3 in order to advance straight to production tooling, which is harder to fix if problems arise, as Reuters first reported previous year.
Huang's family previously told KGO-TV that he had repeatedly complained that the car's semiautonomous system kept veering toward the same barrier. The firms are also checking the battery fire that followed the crash.
Tesla said it will continue working with the NTSB despite this disagreement.
Most components Model Y will borrow from Model 3, however, some technical solutions will get from the "older" model Model X. For example, the compact crossover will get the original back door, which the company calls "Falcon wings". NTSB said it found no defect in the Autopilot system and that Tesla had updated the system since that crash.
Tesla tells drivers that its Autopilot system, which uses cameras, radar and computers to keep speed, change lanes, self-park and automatically stop vehicles, requires drivers to keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel in order to take control to avoid accidents.
The new Model Y details show that Tesla is pushing ahead on plans to build a new vehicle even as it struggles to produce the Model 3, which launched in July.
But the two sides offer different explanations for the split, and the dispute between the National Transportation Safety Board and the electric carmaker could have broad implications for safety investigations and the development of partially and fully automated vehicles.