Tesla has been removed from the National Transportation Safety Board's investigation into a fatal auto-pilot accident that occurred in March, the agency announced today. The NTSB says it took the action because Tesla had published "research information before it was vetoed and confirmed" by the agency. The news was reported for the first time by Bloomberg.
"Such versions of incomplete information often lead to speculation and incorrect assumptions about the probable cause of an accident, which harms the investigation process and the traveling public," the agency writes.
The NTSB account contradicts the version of the story that Tesla told about overnight. In a statement, the automaker said it decided to move away from the investigation due to the NTSB's restrictions on sharing information before the investigation ends.
"Tesla withdrew from the party's agreement with the NTSB because it requires that we not disclose information about the autopilot to the public, a requirement that we believe fundamentally negatively affects public safety," the company said. "We believe in transparency, so an agreement that prevents public disclosure of information for more than a year is unacceptable, although we will not be a formal party, we will continue to provide technical assistance to the NTSB."
Tesla says he withdrew from the investigation because the NTSB privacy agreement was "unacceptable"
The fatal accident took place on the morning of March 23 near Mountain View, California. Walter Huang was driving his Tesla Model X southbound on California Route 101 when he crashed headfirst into a separator separating the leftmost lane of an exit ramp.
The company confirmed a week later that Huang was using the autopilot during the crash, and that the recorded data showed that his hands were not detected on the wheel in the six seconds before impact. Tesla also said that the car's systems had warned Huang several times to regain control of Autopilot earlier in the unit.
Days later, a spokesman for the NTSB said the agency was "unhappy" that Tesla published information about the investigation, as it was still in its early stages. The tension seemed to have been resolved when the NTSB said this week that its president had a "constructive conversation" with Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
Tesla continued to issue statements about the accident and said on Tuesday that "according to the family, Mr. Huang was aware that the autopilot was not perfect and, specifically, told them that he was not reliable in that exact place, however , he had taken care of the autopilot in that place. "On Wednesday, the company said that" the only way this accident could happen is if Mr. Huang was not paying attention to the road, even though the car it provided multiple warnings to do so. " day, the company said it was being eliminated from the "party agreement" with the NTSB.
NTSB investigations are usually methodical issues that depend on the help of the manufacturers of the vehicles involved. For example, it took the NTSB two months to issue a preliminary report on the death of Joshua Brown, who died in May 2016 while using the Tesla autopilot. That investigation was not fully completed until the fall of 2017. The NTSB said today that investigations "generally take between 12 and 24 months to complete" and, as noted by Bloomberg, the agency has previously removed companies for making unauthorized statements .
"It is unfortunate that Tesla, for his actions, did not abide by the party's agreement," said NTSB president Robert Sumwalt in today's statement. "We decided to revoke the state of Tesla's party and informed Mr. Musk in a phone call last night and by letter today." While we understand the demand for information that the parties face during an NTSB investigation, the versions do not Coordinates of incomplete information do not extend transportation security or serve the public interest. "
The NTSB said Tesla is still part of two other ongoing investigations into non-fatal accidents: one since January 22, 2018, which involved the autopilot, and another last summer involving a battery fire.