Tesla says it willingly withdrew from NTSB investigation

Elon Musk's firm has drawn an angry response for saying the fatal Model X crash was the driver's fault. AP

The report also points out that Tesla is accepting preliminary bids for supplier contracts on the Model Y, although details about the programme sent to suppliers are limited with no proper production time frame.

Tesla later stated the vehicle had activated Autopilot, raising new concerns about the semi-autonomous system that handles some driving tasks. On Wednesday, the company said that "the only way for this accident to have occurred is if Mr. Huang wasn't paying attention to the road, despite the vehicle providing multiple warnings to do so".

The NTSB said Thursday that it revoked Tesla's status as an official party to its investigation because the auto company prematurely released information related to the crash. But then tragedy struck: At 9:27 a.m. local time, the auto slammed into an unshielded highway median on U.S. Highway 101 near Mountain View, California, killing Huang and causing an inferno that closed the major highway for hours. "The combined effects of human error and the lack of sufficient system controls resulted in a fatal collision that should not have happened", NTSB chief Robert Sumwalt said at the time. But it's also fair to say that Tesla's Autopilot system isn't flawless, and could be made even safer. The electric carmaker issued the statement blaming Huang, after his family had hired a law firm to explore legal options for them. NTSB said it found no defect in the Autopilot system and that Tesla had updated the system since that crash.

The NTSB sometimes offers companies a role in an investigation when it can provide technical assistance to the agency and Tesla was offered and accepted the role in the investigation of the March 23 incident.

Motorists today are bombarded by distractions from mobile phones to in-dash navigation systems, Reimer said.

On March 23, 38-year-old Walter Huang, an Apple engineer, was driving to work with the auto on Autopilot, according to a post on Tesla's blog.

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Huang's brother, Will Huang, meanwhile says that Walter Huang was a safe driver who always had his hands on the wheel, according to ABC7.

'Just because a driver does something stupid doesn't mean they - or others who are truly blameless - should be condemned to an otherwise preventable death, ' said Smith, who studies the regulations governing autonomous cars. As expected, much of the interview seems to center on the company's current struggles with Model 3 production, with Musk explaining that the saga has been "incredibly hard and painful over the past several months". Issues examined include: "post-crash fire, steps to make vehicle safe for removal from scene". The company has also argued that the victim in the Model X crash is exclusively responsible for the accident, with the damaged highway divider to blame for its severity - not the Model X, which apparently steered itself into the concrete divider at highway speed.

"The NTSB is a trusted investigatory agency".

After partially faulting Autopilot for a May 2016 fatal crash, NTSB investigators past year called on carmakers to do more to ensure drivers stay engaged as next-generation cars start to steer themselves.

"If you are driving a Tesla equipped with Autopilot hardware, you are 3.7 times less likely to be involved in a fatal accident and this continues to improve", the spokesperson said.

This system allows parties information to "take any immediate actions necessary to ensure safety", the NTSB said, although Tesla remains party to two other ongoing crash investigations.

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