An au­to­mated Tesla Model X pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle sped up be­fore hit­ting a dam­aged crash at­ten­u­a­tor, a pre­lim­i­nary of­fi­cial re­port says

Australian Transport News - - Contents -

AN ELEC­TRIC-POW­ERED TESLA MODEL

X pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cle sped up be­fore hit­ting a dam­aged crash at­ten­u­a­tor as it ap­proached a state high­way in­ter­change, a pre­lim­i­nary re­port from the US Na­tional Trans­porta­tion Safety Board (NTSB) says.

The driver was us­ing the ve­hi­cle’s “Au­topi­lot” traf­fic-aware cruise con­trol and lane-keep­ing as­sis­tance tech­nol­ogy when they crashed into the at­ten­u­a­tor – also known as a ‘crash cush­ion’ – on March 23 this year. The Tesla hit the at­ten­u­a­tor as the ve­hi­cle was ex­it­ing the in­ter­change, ro­tat­ing it coun­ter­clock­wise and caus­ing the front por­tion of the car to be sep­a­rated.

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

Ac­cord­ing to the NTSB re­port, the driver was fol­low­ing a lead ve­hi­cle up to four sec­onds be­fore the crash oc­curred, though it noted the driver did not put his hands on the steer­ing wheel of the ve­hi­cle for six sec­onds prior to the crash.

“At three sec­onds prior to the crash and up to the time of im­pact with the crash at­ten­u­a­tor, the Tesla’s speed in­creased from 62 to 70.8mph, with no pre-crash brak­ing or eva­sive steer­ing move­ment de­tected,” the re­port says.

The NTSB also noted that the at­ten­u­a­tor – or ‘crash cush­ion’ – had been dam­aged less than two weeks prior in an un-re­lated sin­gle-ve­hi­cle col­li­sion in­volv­ing a Toy­ota Prius. In blog posts re­leased by Tesla fol­low­ing the ac­ci­dent in March, the man­u­fac­turer says the con­di­tion of the at­ten­u­a­tor was “the rea­son the crash was so se­vere”.

“We have never seen this level of dam­age to a Model X in any other crash,” Tesla says.

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