The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently concluded that the driver of a 2017 Model X, Walter Huang, had Autopilot activated when the vehicle smashed into a crash attenuator and concrete barrier. The cruise control maintains a set distance between the cars and traffic in front of them.
As per the vehicle's programming, the Tesla provided two visual alerts and one auditory alert for the driver to place his hands on the steering wheel prior to the crash.
The auto crashed into an energy-absorbing system, called an "attenuator", on a concrete barrier where two freeways divide in Mountain View, Calif. Ubergizmo argued that it's unlikely that Tesla's cars can suddenly be transformed into fully autonomous vehicles and that term could simply be a fancy marketing term for new features as opposed to its literal meaning.
He died in hospital soon after the crash.
The NTSB report notes some other significant details about the vehicle and how fast it was going.
"We have never seen this level of damage to a Model X in any other crash", the company said. The vehicle did not brake or attempt evasive steering, and the driver's hands were not detected on the steering wheel in the seconds before impact, according to the report.
However, the investigation also found that the vehicle not only began a left steering movement seven seconds before the crash, which resulted in its crashing directly into a "attenuator" road divider, it also speeded up at the same time. However, the last of these alerts came 15 minutes before the crash.
In January, a Tesla Model S sedan that may have been using Autopilot hit a parked firetruck on Interstate 405 near Los Angeles.
Two other vehicles became involved in the crash, and the Tesla's battery also caught fire. The driver in the second incident told authorities she thought Tesla's emergency braking system would stop the vehicle to avert a collision.
The video poster says a friend filmed the video earlier this week near Fremont, California where Tesla is based.
Tesla's owner's manual warns drivers that the system may not detect stationary objects when traveling at higher speeds.
On Tesla's website, it describes upcoming features - including the ability for a vehicle to change lanes without driver input, move from one freeway to another, and exit a freeway near the driver's destination - that are not available in Autopilot's current iteration. The SUV also was equipped with automatic emergency braking, which is always on in Tesla vehicles unless customers deactivate it by taking several steps on the vehicle touch screen.
Shortly after the March 23 crash that killed Huang, Tesla released a statement that said "the only way for this accident to have occurred is if Mr. Huang was not paying attention to the road".
According to the NTSB report, the driver was using the vehicle's traffic-aware cruise control and autosteer lane-keeping assistance technology while driving on the US Highway 101, when it approached the exit to State Highway 85.
It likely will take more than a year to determine what caused the crash, NTSB spokesman Christopher O'Neil said Thursday.
A Tesla Autopilot update set for August will include "full, self-driving features", CEO Elon Musk said on Sunday. 'The focus is on what led to this crash and how do we prevent it from happening again'.
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