Tesla exits crash probe amid fight with USA investigators

Above Tesla Showroom Chiswick London

April 11: Tesla issues a statement that blames Huang, not Tesla's semi-autonomous Autopilot system, for the fatal crash.

Tesla has declined to say how long drivers can now use Autopilot between visual or audible warnings to have a hand on the wheel.

"It is unfortunate that Tesla, by its actions, did not abide by the party agreement", NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said in a written statement. But then tragedy struck: At 9:27 a.m. local time, the vehicle slammed into an unshielded highway median on U.S. Highway 101 near Mountain View, California, killing Huang and causing an inferno that closed the major highway for hours.

Tesla has said Huang had activated Autopilot and it was in operation at the time of the crash. Yet instead of worrying about this, Tesla is forging ahead with the expansion of its lineup: unnamed sources told Reuters today that the company plans to start producing its SUV, the Model Y, in November next year.

As far as this NTSB investigation goes, Tesla's departure is unlikely to change much.

The statement also does not address what may be a more fundamental challenge for Autopilot technology: Human nature. "The firm's preliminary review has uncovered complaints by other Tesla drivers of navigational errors by the Autopilot feature, and other lawsuits have also made this complaint", Minami Tamaki said in a strongly-worded statement.

Tesla's argument is that it believes the NTSB process is simply too slow, and said that it chose to pull out of the party agreement.

Mr. Musk said that Tesla was making progress.

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Officials are examining a crash that killed Walter Huang, a 38-year-old man who died when his Tesla Model X slammed into a barrier on a stretch of highway near Mountain View, California.

Tesla refused to comment on the August incident.

Tesla said it is "extremely clear" that Autopilot requires drivers to be alert and have hands on the steering wheel.

The NTSB found a year ago that the driver in the 2016 crash had barely touched the steering wheel and ignored multiple warnings over a 37-minute period before his Model S ploughed into the side of a truck. "If it doesn't detect anything on the wheel for a certain amount of time, it first gives a visual warning, then an audible warning, then the vehicle starts slowing down". The agreement with the NTSB had prohibited Tesla from publicly sharing information on the collision while the investigation was ongoing.

NTSB investigations generally take 12 to 24 months to complete.

"The agency is in contact with local investigators, consistent with NHTSA's vigilant oversight and authority over the safety of all motor vehicles and equipment", an NHTSA spokesperson said in a statement to TechCrunch.

The company has said the production rate for Model 3 will increase through Q-2 and that it will make 5,000 units a week in about 3 months. As expected, much of the interview seems to center on the company's current struggles with Model 3 production, with Musk explaining that the saga has been "incredibly hard and painful over the past several months".

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which has the power to order recalls and fine auto manufacturers, found no defect after investigating the May 2016 crash involving a Tesla Model S driven on Autopilot by Josh Brown, a former Navy SEAL. If you are driving a Tesla equipped with Autopilot hardware, you are 3.7 times less likely to be involved in a fatal accident and this continues to improve.

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