Tesla Must Fix 'Flaws' in Autopilot After Fatal Crash: Consumer Group

Walter Huang, the 38-year old driver, was killed. That mode is created to help keep a vehicle in its lane and adjusts its speed based on surrounding traffic. But once the autopilot mode sensed that vehicle no longer was in front of the auto, the Tesla began accelerating, and continued speeding up until impact near the exit to State Highway 85. 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.

While bystanders were able to remove the driver from the vehicle before it was engulfed in flames, he later died in hospital from his injuries.

The NTSB report notes some other significant details about the vehicle and how fast it was going.

Buyers of Tesla's sedan or SUV, including the $140,000 Model X P100D, can pay an extra $5,000 for "Enhanced Autopilot", a package of still-experimental features that the company says could include "on-ramp to off-ramp" autonomous freeway driving. Consumer groups argue Tesla's marketing - and even the name "Autopilot", which calls to mind a free-flying jet - contributes to a risky misunderstanding for drivers, suggesting they can take their hands off the steering wheel.

In the minute before the crash, Huang's hands were on the wheel for a total of 34 seconds, but not in the last six seconds before he struck a crash attenuator and concrete barrier on US Highway 101 in Mountain View, California, the report said.

A Tesla SUV using the company's semi-autonomous Autopilot driving system accelerated to 71 miles per hour seconds before crashing into a California freeway barrier, killing its driver, federal investigators have determined. In January, a Tesla Model S that may have been on autopilot hit a parked firetruck on Interstate 405 near Los Angeles.

Two other vehicles crashed into the Tesla following the accident, which the NTSB said sparked a fire after the crashes breached the Telsa's 400-volt lithium-ion high-voltage battery.

Musk tweeted that Tesla's Version 9, a software update that will automatically install in Tesla cars, would "begin to enable full self-driving features" and entirely fix certain issues with "Autopilot", the name for the company's package of semi-driverless features such as advanced cruise control.

Musk didn't say which self-driving features would be included, though he indicated the update would allow Tesla vehicles to perform better in areas where lanes merge on highways.

Tesla's owner's manual warns drivers that the system may not detect stationary objects when traveling at higher speeds.

"It is the driver's responsibility to drive safely and remain in control of the vehicle at all times", the manual says. 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.

The vehicle stopped following a lead vehicle four seconds before the crash occurred, the NTSB said after starting a left steering motion just before the accident took place.

The report said the SUV was operating with "traffic-aware cruise control" before the crash. The NTSB says it now will examine the cause of the crash.

A Tesla spokesperson on Monday said the cars would only start offering a limited number of as-yet-undisclosed features, not full autonomy itself. "The focus is on what led to this crash and how do we prevent it from happening again".

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