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NTSB confirms Autopilot active during fatal Tesla Model 3 accident in March

by Justin King

Details of the crash appear to echo the first fatal Autopilot accident involving a semi crossing a Florida state highway.

The National Transportation Safety Board has released a preliminary report into the third fatal accident involving Tesla's Autopilot technology.

The latest crash occurred in Delray Beach, Florida, on State Highway 441 when a Model 3 struck a semi that had slowed as it crossed the southbound lanes to turn onto the northbound lanes. The impact sheared off the car's roof and killed the driver.

"According to surveillance video in the area and forward-facing video from the Tesla, the combination vehicle slowed as it crossed the southbound lanes, blocking the Tesla's path," the NTSB report notes.

The 50-year-old driver engaged Autopilot approximately 10 seconds before the crash. Starting from less than eight seconds before impact, the Model 3 did not detect the driver's hands on the steering wheel. The car was traveling around 68 mph at the time, 13 mph above the speed limit in the area.

"Neither the preliminary data nor the videos indicate that the driver or [Autopilot] executed evasive maneuvers," the report adds.

The details of the crash are strikingly similar to the first fatal Autopilot accident, which involved an older Model S that struck a semi that was crossing a divided Florida highway.

Notably, the Model S in the first fatal accident was equipped with Tesla's first-generation Autopilot hardware while the Model 3 is powered by the more powerful HW2.5 system that entered production in 2017. The former uses a single forward camera, while the latter has three front-facing cameras with different fields of view.

The NTSB will continue to investigate the latest incident and analyze the operation of Tesla's Autopilot technology along with the driver's actions leading up to the crash.

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