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Tesla says Autopilot was activated before fatal accident

Tesla says Autopilot was activated before fatal accident
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Tesla revealed late Friday that the fatal crash in California last week occurred after the vehicle involved was placed on Autopilot.

The electric car company said in a press release after reviewing the Model X’s computer logs that the in-car driver, identified as Apple engineer Wei Huang, had been instructed to take control of the steering wheel but ignored the warning.

“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 said in its press release.

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“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.”

The Model X hit a concrete divider in Mountain View, Calif., last week. The company said Friday that they have “never seen this level of damage” to a Tesla Model X in any other crash. The company noted that the car’s built-in highway safety barrier had been damaged in an earlier crash and was not replaced.

The company said it stands by the use of Autopilot, saying that autonomous cars are 10 times safer than non-autonomous cars. Previous crashes involving Tesla vehicles operating on Autopilot have been investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.

“Tesla Autopilot does not prevent all accidents – such a standard would be impossible – but it makes them much less likely to occur,” the release said. “It unequivocally makes the world safer for the vehicle occupants, pedestrians and cyclists.”

The Tesla crash came just a week after a self-driving Uber vehicle killed a pedestrian in Arizona.

“We care deeply for and feel indebted to those who chose to put their trust in us,” Tesla wrote in the release. “However, we must also care about people now and in the future whose lives may be saved if they know that Autopilot improves safety. None of this changes how devastating an event like this is or how much we feel for our customer's family and friends. We are incredibly sorry for their loss.”