NTSB is ‘unhappy’ about Tesla publicly disclosing details of fatal crash

Tesla provided some more details on Friday about the fatal crash involving one of its Model X vehicles, but the National Transportation Safety Board isn’t particularly happy about that, The Washington Post first reported.

“In each of our investigations involving a Tesla vehicle, Tesla has been extremely cooperative on assisting with the vehicle data,” NTSB spokesperson Chris O’Neil told TechCrunch “However, the NTSB is unhappy with the release of investigative information by Tesla.”

That’s because those involved in an NTSB investigation are required to inform the Board of information releases before doing so.

“The uncoordinated release of investigative information can affect how other parties work with us in the future so we take each unauthorized release seriously,” O’Neil told TechCrunch. “However, this release will not hinder our investigation.”

Last week, Tesla said Autopilot, the company’s semi-autonomous mode that can change lanes and maintain proper vehicle positions and safe speeds, was engaged in the moments leading up to the crash.

“The driver had received several visual and one audible hands-on warning earlier in the drive and the driver’s hands were not detected on the wheel for six seconds prior to the collision,” Tesla wrote in a blog post. “The driver had about five seconds and 150 meters of unobstructed view of the concrete divider with the crushed crash attenuator, but the vehicle logs show that no action was taken.”

While Tesla and the NTSB have made some early observations, there’s still more work to be done as part of the investigation. The NTSB, for example, still needs Tesla’s help to decode the data the vehicle recorded and ultimately determine the “probable cause” of the crash, NTSB spokesperson O’Neil told the Post.

The investigation has also expanded to look into the concerns the driver had previously expressed about Autopilot. Walter Huang, the owner of the car who died as a result of the crash, had previously taken his car into the Tesla dealership, saying his car had a way of veering toward the exact barrier his car hit, ABC7 reported last week. Tesla, however, says it has no record of Huang complaining about Autopilot.

“We’ve been doing a thorough search of our service records and we cannot find anything suggesting that the customer ever complained to Tesla about the performance of Autopilot,” a Tesla spokesperson told TechCrunch. “There was a concern raised once about navigation not working correctly, but Autopilot’s performance is unrelated to navigation.”

Tesla declined to comment on the NTSB’s concerns.

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