NTSB Found That “Driverless” Tesla Crash Wasn’t So Driverless After All

Remember that so-called “driverless” Tesla crash in Houston that the media went nuts over? Jennifer Sensiba did a very good job covering that for CleanTechnica, and unlike the wild headlines suggesting killer robot cars and whatnot, her coverage was fair and balanced. Also, from the beginning, CleanTechnica CEO and Tesla owner Zach Shahan noted that the idea that the car was on Autopilot at the time didn’t make any sense, and Tesla Elon Musk responded in the same way.

This is the same accident that inspired Consumer Reports to trick Autopilot into thinking it had a driver when it didn’t. The CR test driver was able to trick the Tesla Autopilot system, but you need to be extremely flexible to copy him — and we wouldn’t advise that anyway. Car and Driver responded by pointing out the ways 17 different driver-assist systems could be tricked, not just Tesla’s.

Well, the news now is that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued an investigative update on that crash and found that there actually was a driver in the car at the time of the accident. In its update, the NTSB found that both the driver and passenger seats were occupied at the time of the crash. The vehicle had reached a speed of 67 miles per hour during the five seconds leading up to the crash and the damage to the steering wheel was due to impact at the time of the accident.

The NTSB was able to repair and download the fire-damaged event data recorder (EDR) with the aid of its module manufacturer. Data from the module showed that the driver and passenger seats were occupied and that the seat belts were buckled when the EDR recorded the crash. Data also showed that the driver was accelerating in the time leading up to the crash with the application of the accelerator pedal as high as 98.8%.

The investigation is still ongoing, but the NTSB has shown that those sensational headlines were just short-term clickbait that was emotionally manipulative. And the second-worst part is that the families of the victims were used to make money for these industries that just wanted to create hit pieces against Tesla. The worst part is the fatal accident itself.

The investigation is still ongoing, and the NTSB stated:

“Analysis of the crash facts, along with conclusions and a determination of probable cause, will come when the final report on the investigation is completed. No conclusions about how the crash happened should be drawn from the information in this investigative update. Additional information will be released as warranted. All aspects of the crash, including Tesla’s advanced driver assistance system, the postcrash fire, occupant egress, and results of the driver’s toxicological tests, remain under investigation while the NTSB determines the probable cause, with the intent of issuing safety recommendations to prevent similar events in the future.”

In other words, don’t jump to conclusions. Wait until the case is closed before sensational headlines of driverless Teslas killing people are written.


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