Accident Investigator: Autopilot Accelerated Tesla from Deadly Crash

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According to US accident investigators, Tesla’s autopilot assistance system has accelerated in the last few seconds in the direction of a concrete bollard during a fatal accident in March.

Prior to the crash, no braking or evasive maneuvers were found on the Type X electric SUV, the US agency said in a preliminary report to NTSB.
The experts, who are also involved in aircraft accidents, published the first detailed information on the accident from the evaluation of vehicle data.

Thus, the Tesla eight seconds before impact followed another car at a speed of 65 miles per hour (almost 105 km / h). Seven seconds before the crash, the Tesla and the front car began to move to the left.

What happened next is likely to raise new questions about the autopilot system: Four seconds before the collision, the front car was out of sight – and a second later autopilot started to accelerate. Until the impact, the speed increased from 62 to 70.8 miles per hour (from almost 100 km / h to 114 km / h).

The driver has not had his hands on the controls for the past six seconds, the NTSB said. Tesla always emphasizes that autopilot is merely an assistance system and drivers always need to keep track of and control the vehicle. Prior to the accident, Autopilot had been running the last 19 minutes without interruption, as the NTSB report shows.

In the accident on a highway near Mountain View in Silicon Valley, the Tesla had raced into a concrete bollard between the lanes. To make matters worse, that a metal construction in front of the bollard, which is just in such cases, a vehicle to decelerate before impact, was severely shortened after an earlier accident.

The NTSB did not draw any conclusions about the causes of the accident in the preliminary report. Tesla had been excluded from the investigation after the group released information on the accident without consulting the agency.

The NTSB also confirmed that the car’s battery, which had been extinguished right after the accident, caught fire again five days later. The accident investigators are currently investigating several battery fires in crashed Tesla vehicles. In May, a Tesla had crashed into a demarcation in Switzerland and burst into flames. Tesla points out that the likelihood of electric vehicle fires is lower than for cars with conventional combustion engines.

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