A preliminary report from the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) says Autopilot may have steered toward the dividing barrier on US Highway 101 before a fatal accident involving a Tesla Model X earlier this year.
It's worth mentioning up front, the investigation isn't complete, and the NTSB hasn't nailed down a probably cause for the crash. The preliminary report says, however, says the vehicle's Autopilot system accelerated to 71mph (115km/h) in the three seconds leading up to the accident, with no indication of evasive braking or steering.
Up until that point, the car had been following the vehicle in front, travelling at around 65mph (105km/h). Four seconds before impact, the Model X stopped following the vehicle in front and veered toward the barrier, accelerating towards its 75mph set speed.
According to a report from ABC7 in the USA said Walter Huang, the car's owner, had previously taken his car to Tesla and complained about the car veering toward the barrier he eventually hit, although Tesla hasn't confirmed this.
In a blog post earlier this year, the company said the driver had his hands off the wheel for six seconds before the crash, and had around five seconds and 150m of unobstructed view of the crash barrier before hitting it.
The post also said Autopilot "does not prevent all accidents", and argued (rather pointedly) that "no one knows about the accidents that didn’t happen, only the ones that did".
"The consequences of the public not using Autopilot, because of an inaccurate belief that it is less safe, would be extremely severe," it continued – make of that what you will.
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