A man killed in a high-speed Tesla crash had previously told friends and family about the vehicle’s Autopilot malfunctioning in that exact same spot on the road.
Walter Huang, a software engineer in California, was riding in a Tesla Model X SUV in March of 2018. The vehicle was operating using the company’s Autopilot software as it neared an exit on Highway 101 in Mountain View. It was at that point the SUV abruptly veered, slamming into a barrier at a speed of approximately 71 mph.
Huang died from his injuries. Two years later, investigative documents reveal he had not only told loved ones about the Tesla malfunctioning in that specific spot, but had even brought it to a service center for a navigation-related issue.
Revelations from NTSB documents
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a trove of documents related to its probe of the wreck. In these documents, it is revealed:
- Before the incident, Huang told his spouse the Tesla Autopilot had been veering toward that same Highway 101 barrier in which he would later crash
- Huang told his brother and a friend about the error as well
- Huang brought the Tesla to a service center to address a “navigation error,” but mechanics could not replicate the issue and did not repair it
The NTSB also determined that Tesla’s software noticed Huang did not have his hands on the steering wheel when the crash occurred, yet did not disable the semi-autonomous steering.
Auto manufacturers and safe vehicles
Driving is inherently dangerous, yet too often, vehicle manufacturers release cars and trucks with troubling defects. These flaws, whether mechanical or part of the software, put motorists at risk. They can lead to crashes that severely injure or kill occupants and others on the road. When one of these defects is discovered but never addressed, it is even more disturbing.
Consumers should be able to trust that their vehicle is safe to use. When that is not the case, victims and their loved ones can move to hold the responsible auto company accountable.