Tesla Model X In California Crash Sped Up Prior To Impact

Ivan Schwartz
June 8, 2018

The National Transportation Safety Board issued its preliminary report on the March 23 accident in which the driver, Walter Huang, of Foster City, died after his 2017 Tesla Model X P100D slammed into a safety barrier at the Highway 85 interchange after traveling south on Highway 101.

The preliminary NTSB report released today does not assign blame for the crash, and officials say it may take a year or longer to determine the probable cause.

But the report does not draw an explicit conclusion about the cause of the crash. Three seconds before the crash, the Model X sped up from 62 to 70.8 miles per hour before hitting the barrier at roughly 71 miles per hour.

The crash on US 101 killed the driver, Walter Huang, 38, an Apple software engineer.

At 8 seconds prior to the crash, the Tesla was following a lead vehicle and was traveling about 65 miles per hour.

Bystanders managed to get the driver, Walter Huang, out of the vehicle before it was engulfed in flames, and he was taken to a hospital where he died from his injuries.

Information from the Model X shows that Huang had engaged Autopilot four times during his 32-minute trip, including a almost 19-minute stint leading up to the crash.

Then, seven seconds before the crash, the Tesla began drifting left to align with the lead vehicle as it headed into a left-side exit.

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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".

A Tesla SUV using the company's semi-autonomous Autopilot driving system accelerated just before crashing into a California freeway barrier, killing its driver, federal investigators have determined. But that device had been damaged in a previous crash on March 12. Tesla has defended its iterative approach, arguing that its features, in conjunction with attentive humans, are already providing for significantly safer cars. That has lead some technology developers to focus on fully driverless technology, which requires nothing from passengers.

Tesla's system may have a problem spotting or stopping for stationary objects. After hitting the attenuator, the Tesla hit two other cars.

Last month, police in Utah said a Tesla in Autopilot mode crashed into a parked fire truck.

It serves as a tragic reminder that drivers need to always pay attention when using Autopilot and be ready to take control at all time. NTSB, along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a regulatory agency that can seek recalls and fine automakers, are investigating that crash.

"It is the driver's responsibility to drive safely and remain in control of the vehicle at all times", the manual says.

The Tesla collided with a so-called crash attenuator, a device covering the concrete barrier that's created to absorb a vehicle impact to lower risks of damage and injuries.

Other reports by GizPress

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