In a fatal crash in Mountain View, California, in March 2018 involving a Model X in Autopilot mode, Tesla said vehicle logs showed the driver had received warnings to put his hands on the wheel but no action was taken by the driver ahead of the crash.
We should point out that this information from the NTSB is only preliminary at this point in time.
Neither the data nor the videos indicated the driver or the Autopilot system braked or tried to avoid the trailer, the report stated. The first was in Williston, Florida, on May 7, 2016 and the situation was similar - a Tesla Model S drove into truck without driver or system intervention.
"Preliminary vehicle data show that the Tesla was traveling about 68 miles per hour when it struck the semitrailer", the report said.
Video footage showed that the truck was crossing the highway and had slowed as it crossed the southbound lanes of State Highway 441 in Palm Beach County, blocking the Tesla's path.
In a statement made to The Washington Post, David Friedman, VP of advocacy for consumer reports who served as the acting head of NHTSA in 2014, criticized Tesla's assistive driving tech for its inability to detect an 18-wheel truck on the highway and suggested the company's approach to sensing driver attention is inadequate.
Tesla does not recommend that drivers remove their hands from the wheel when using the vehicle's Autopilot feature.
The NTSB said its investigation is ongoing.
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NTSB noted in its final 2017 report into the 2016 crash that the driver was over reliant on Tesla's Autopilot, which was also engaged when it crashed.
The report is only two pages long so there's not a lot in the way of detail, but the basic narrative is this: the driver engaged Autopilot 10 seconds before the crash, and the vehicle stopped detecting his hands on the wheel eight seconds before the crash.
Among seven recommendations it made from the investigation was that "Tesla's automated vehicle control system was not created to, and could not, identify the truck crossing the Tesla's path or recognize the impending crash".
In response to the NTSB preliminary findings, a Tesla spokesperson in an email Thursday said, "We are deeply saddened by this accident and our thoughts are with everyone affected by this tragedy".
Tesla said it was the only time during the journey that Autopilot had been activated. The impact sheared off the car's roof and killed the driver.
Preliminary data from the vehicle show that the Tesla's Autopilot system-an advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) that provides both longitudinal and lateral control over vehicle motion-was active at the time of the crash.1 The driver engaged the Autopilot about 10 seconds before the collision.
Now, at first glance, it's easy to blame the driver because the vehicle's data tells us that his hands weren't where they should have been.
He said Tesla "must restrict Autopilot to conditions where it can be used safely and install a far more effective system to verify driver engagement".