The past few weeks have been particularly trying for the self-driving car industry. This is due in no small part to a recent incident involving a self-driving Uber vehicle which crashed into pedestrian Elaine Herzberg in Tempe, Arizona on March 18.
However, Uber isn't the only company embroiled in a self-driving vehicle controversy. On March 23, a Tesla vehicle crashed into a median on Highway 101 in Mountain View, California while autopilot was engaged. The crash led to the tragic death of driver Wei Huang.
In the interest of transparency, Tesla was quick to reveal details about the crash including the fact that the driver apparently had his hands off the wheel for six seconds prior to the incident - something Tesla has warned against on multiple occasions. Tesla's customers might appreciate this transparency but government investigators feel quite differently.
"...the NTSB is unhappy with the release of investigative information by Tesla..."
"In each of our investigations involving a Tesla vehicle, Tesla has been extremely cooperative on assisting with the vehicle data," a US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) spokesperson said in a statement to the Washington Post. "However, the NTSB is unhappy with the release of investigative information by Tesla. The NTSB is looking into all aspects of this crash including the driver's previous concerns about the Autopilot."
As noted by Engadget, the NTSB spokesperson's latter statement is likely referring to concerns Huang previously expressed to a Tesla dealership regarding the erratic nature of his Model X's autopilot system. At the time, Huang reportedly said his Model X swerved toward the very same median at an earlier date.
With that in mind, the NTSB is likely looking to rule out the possibility that Tesla's autopilot system itself led to the crash instead of driver error as the company's previous statements suggested.