Tesla Model X Crash - NTSB Removes Tesla from Investigation

Elon Musk's firm has drawn an angry response for saying the fatal Model X crash was the driver's fault. AP

Contrary to the NTSB's version of events, Tesla issued a statement where it said it decided itself to withdraw earlier this week as the NTSB was allegedly throttling its ability to share information before the procedure ended.

The NTSB said Tesla was removed from the investigation because releasing investigative information before it is vetted and confirmed by government regulators can produce "incomplete information" that can often lead to "speculation and incorrect assumptions about the probable cause of a crash, which does a disservice to the investigative process and the traveling public".

Initially, it was unclear whether the vehicle was in Autopilot mode, and the investigation was focused on a damaged collision barrier and the post-crash fire that complicated the emergency response.

Part of the requirements of accepting that invitation, as Tesla did in the case of this particular crash on April 6, is agreeing to abide by the NTSB's rules on public disclosure. An NTSB spokesperson said the agency was "unhappy" with the company for disclosing details during the investigation.

The stakes for Tesla's bid to defend Autopilot are significant. For a company working on the front line of autonomous driving research, those seem like very unsafe moves indeed.

The investigation was launched after Walter Huang of San Mateo was killed in March 23 while driving his Tesla Model X on U.S. Highway 101 in Mountain View. The company said the "only" explanation for the crash was "if Mr. Huang was not paying attention to the road, despite the vehicle providing multiple warnings to do so".

As a reminder here, Tesla's Autopilot system is only meant to be used by those closely watching the road, and activating the system requires an acknowledgment of this reality. The NTSB said the removal was a rare move, but Tesla's information releases "do not further transportation safety or serve the public interest".

Although Tesla won't be a formal party to the probe, the company said it will continue to provide technical assistance to the NTSB.

"The NTSB is a trusted investigatory agency". The only way the accident could have happened is if Huang "was not paying attention to the road, despite the auto providing multiple warnings to do so, "according to a statement Tesla sent April 10 to Dan Noyes, an investigative reporter with California's ABC7 News".

The family of a driver who was killed in a Tesla auto crash has hired law firm Minami Tamaki LLP to look for legal options, the law firm stated on Wednesday, adding that the Autopilot feature in the electric automaker's vehicle probably contributed to his death.

While Tesla said they are "incredibly sorry" for Sevonne's loss, they blamed the acciden ton her husband. American had taken one of the plane's two crash-proof recorders and downloaded its contents prior to turning the device over to the agency.

According to the NTSB, sharing information about an ongoing investigation with companies, emergency responders, and other groups allows those parties to take any immediate actions necessary to ensure safety. Tesla says for every 320 million miles cars equipped with Autopilot drive, there is one fatality, including known pedestrian fatalities.

That's a reference to the death of Joshua Brown, a Tesla customer who died when his Model S slammed into a truck while Autopilot was engaged.

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