A consumer advocacny group urged Tesla, Inc. (NASDAQ: TSLA) to fix flaws in the automaker’s driver-assisted Autopilot after a government report said the driver didn’t have his hands on the vehicle’s steering wheel before the vehicle crashed. Walter Huang was driving the 2017 Model X using the Autopilot feature and had been given two visual alerts and one auditory alert to place his hands on the steering wheel 15 minutes before the March 23 crash, according to a report issued to the National Transportation Safety Board. The crash sent him to the hospital where he soon died.
The director of Cars and Product Policy and Analysis for Consumers Union, David Friedman, said the report is alarming and Tesla needs to immediately address these concerns with the Autopilot feature. The crash report shows Tesla’s system can’t navigate common road situations on its own and fails to keep drivers engaged when it’s needed most, he said.
The report said the vehicle sped up from 62 miles per hour to 71 miles per hour three seconds before the crash. The driver had his hands on the wheel for 34 seconds but not the last 6 seconds before the automobile crashed a concrete barrier on U.S. Highway 101 in Mountain View, California.
Tesla had no comments for the report but previously said Huang did not brake to avoid the crash before the accident. Mark Fong, the lawyer for Huang’s family, said the Autopilot was a failure for not having an automatic braking system to stop the car and it shouldn’t have happened.
Tesla have previously have crashed in Autopilot with a crash into a stationary fire truck in Utah according to police. The board is investigating four crashes from the company’s cars since August 2017 and the use of Autopilot.