The preliminary report from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board provided the most detailed account of the crash to date, but did not answer any key questions: when did the driver of the car move from behind the wheel to the back seat?
The owner of a Tesla Inc. Model S that crashed into a tree last month, which died along with a passenger, was behind the wheel when the car left home shortly before the crash.
A home surveillance camera captured the owner entering the driver’s seat before the car slowly pulled away and accelerated, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board reported Monday.
Houston suburban police had initially said it looked like no one was behind the wheel. The driver’s body was found in the back seat and another person in the passenger seat after a fire.
While the NTSB did not specifically say whether the driver was still driving the car, the preliminary report at least suggests it was possible, reinforcing Tesla’s claims that the autopilot, its driver assistance technology, is not ‘had committed before the accident.
Investigators said the car’s automated steering system was not turned on. An NTSB test of a similar vehicle showed that other automated driving functions could have been activated, but not the so-called Autosteer.
William Varner, 59, and Everette Talbot, 69, died when the Model S crashed into a tree and caught fire in The Woodlands, a wealthy neighborhood in the big city of Houston. The fatal accident generated enormous attention.
Lars Moravy, Tesla’s vice president of vehicle engineering, said in the company’s most recent earnings call that the steering wheel was “deformed,” which caused the likelihood that someone was in the driver’s seat at the time of the crash. ‘accident.
The NTSB preliminary report provided the most detailed account up to the time of the accident, but did not answer any key questions: when did the driver of the car move from the steering wheel to the back seat?
The home security camera captured the crash, the NTSB said. “The car exits and moves about 550 feet before exiting the road by a curve, driving over the curb and hitting a drainage culvert, an elevated sewer and a tree,” the NTSB said in the report.
The impact damaged the front of the vehicle’s high-voltage lithium-ion battery, which was where the fire started, NTSB said. Lithium-based batteries are highly flammable and difficult to extinguish, and the safety board has been investigating the fire hazards of batteries for more than a decade.
An electronic system that activates the car’s airbags was severely damaged. The device can provide information about speed, acceleration, seat belt status, and other data. The NTSB has taken the device to its Washington lab to try to extract the data.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Moravy did not respond to emails.
The NTSB said it will continue to analyze the shock dynamics, including “the results of post-mortem toxicology tests, seat belt use, occupant exit and electric vehicle fires.”