On Monday afternoon, the Nationwide Transportation Security Board launched a preliminary report for its investigation right into a crash of a Tesla Mannequin S that killed the motive force and passenger in Texas earlier in April. The crash made headlines as a result of nobody was discovered within the driver’s seat, elevating suspicions that Tesla’s Autopilot driver-assistance system was concerned within the deaths. This now appears unlikely—the NTSB says that video footage reveals the occupants moving into the entrance seats of the automobile shortly earlier than the crash. Moreover, the NTSB was unable to interact a part of Autopilot on the stretch of street the place the crash occurred.
The crash occurred on April 17 in Spring, situated in Harris County, Texas. Based on the NTSB report, footage from the proprietor’s dwelling safety system reveals that the motive force and a passenger entered the automobile on the proprietor’s home. They then traveled roughly 550 ft (167 m) “earlier than departing the street on a curve, driving over the curb, and hitting a drainage culvert, a raised manhole, and a tree.” At this level, the Tesla’s lithium-ion traction battery was broken and caught fireplace.
The hearth additionally destroyed the on-board storage of the Tesla’s infotainment system, however the NTSB says it recovered a fire-damaged restraint management module that may “file knowledge related to car velocity, belt standing, acceleration, and airbag deployment.” This module has been taken to the NTSB’s recorder laboratory for additional testing.
Though this particular Tesla Mannequin S was geared up with Autopilot, the NTSB investigation to date means that the driver-assistance system was not lively. NTSB investigators may activate the Site visitors Conscious Cruise Management part of Autopilot on the stretch of street in query, however they have been unable to activate Autosteer.
The NTSB says it’s persevering with to gather knowledge “to research the crash dynamics, postmortem toxicology check outcomes, seat belt use, occupant egress, and electrical car fires.” As for why the motive force was not present in his seat, one troubling risk is that the entrance door was inoperable or obstructed and the motive force died whereas making an attempt to flee from the rear of the Mannequin S. In contrast to most vehicles, Tesla makes use of IP-based digital door locks that fail if the automobile loses energy (as it will have on this crash). In an emergency that cuts energy to the automobile, the rear doorways of a Mannequin S can solely be opened utilizing a plastic tab discovered within the rear footwell.