As the back-and-forth over who or what was at fault in the recent fatal crash of a Tesla Model X vehicle in Mountain View continues, the electric carmaker has said it has withdrawn from the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation into the matter. But the federal agency said it had took the "rare" action of ousting Tesla from the probe.
Late Wednesday, Tesla said in a statement it would no longer take part in the NTSB probe because the investigation would require Tesla to not divulge information about its Autopilot feature to the public. Autopilot is a technology in Tesla cars that allows a vehicle to perform some functions such as lane changes and parking on its own.
A Tesla spokesperson said in a statement that the NTSB requirement to not divulge information on Autopilot "fundamentally affects public safety negatively (and) we believe in transparency, so an agreement that prevents public release of information for over a year is unacceptable."
The safety board -- which earlier this month said it was not happy Tesla had released information on the crash -- on Thursday disputed Tesla's claim that it withdrew from the investigation. The agency said it had removed the firm as a party to the probe. Tesla had earlier accepted "party status" in the investigation, which allows the parties to share investigative information in the early stages of an accident probe, the agency said.
"Tesla violated the party agreement by releasing investigative information before it was vetted and confirmed by the NTSB," the agency said in a statement.
"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 traveling public."
Agency chairman Robert Sumwalt said he had called Tesla CEO Elon Musk on Wednesday night to tell him his company was being ousted as a party to the investigation. The agency's probes typically take one to two years, it said.
The safety regulator said it had revoked party status in other investigations, but that it was "rare."
Tesla said in a statement Wednesday that it would continue to provide "technical assistance" to the agency for its probe.
The role of Autopilot is central to the investigation into the March 23 accident in which Walter Huang, of San Mateo, was killed when his Tesla crashed into a barrier between Highway 101 and Highway 85, in Mountain View. Huang's family says he complained to Tesla service departments on multiple occasions that Autopilot had steered his vehicle on multiple occasions toward the barrier that his eventually crashed into.
For its part, Tesla issued a statement earlier this week saying that the accident was most likely Huang's fault. Tesla said "Autopilot requires the driver to be alert and have hands on the wheel. This reminder is made every single time Autopilot is engaged. If the system detects that hands are not on, it provides visual and auditory alerts. This happened several times on Mr. Huang's drive that day."
The family of Huang has hired the law firm of Minami Tamaki to represent it in upcoming suits to be filed against Tesla, and potentially, the company's subcontractors that helped design and build the Autopilot system.
© 2018 San Jose Mercury News under contract with NewsEdge/Acquire Media. All rights reserved.
Image credit: Courtesy of Tesla.
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Posted: 2018-04-19 @ 11:44am PT
"it provides visual and auditory alerts. This happened several times on Mr. Huang's drive that day." And elsewhere they say this is 'intended' behavior.
If the system is experiencing problems, or difficulty navigating, does it simply 'notify the driver'?? That's somehow working as INTENDED? What if the driver is asleep, or has a medical emergency? Just keep on driving till it crashes?
One would think that 'intended' behavior would be to throw on the flashers, get as far off the road as possible and STOP.