Driver in deadly Tesla autopilot crash was Taiwanese

Driver who perished while Tesla Model X was in autopilot mode was Taiwanese

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Scene of the crash.

Scene of the crash. (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The driver who lost his life when his Tesla careened into a concrete barrier while it was in autopilot mode was Taiwanese.

The driver involved in the deadly crash has been identified by U.S. media outlets as Walter Huang (黃偉), 38, an engineer who was living in San Mateo County California and working for Apple. On March 23, while Huang was driving on his way to work, his Tesla Model X SUV suddenly slammed into a concrete median on Highway 101 in Mountain View, California, causing it to burst into flames and taking Huang's life.

Based on analysis of data after the vehicle was recovered, Tesla wrote in a blog post that 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."

In a statement, Tesla referred to a U.S. government review which found Tesla's autopilot feature reduces crash rates by 40 percent, and emphasized that the feature does not prevent accidents, but it makes them less likely to occur. However, the statement ended in saying that "none of this changes how devastating an event like this is" and that it is "incredibly sorry" for his family's loss.

Huang had previously complained to a Tesla dealer that his vehicle would swerve toward the same median where he was later killed while on autopilot mode, said his family members to San Francisco ABC affiliate KGO-TV. It is not yet clear if the company had looked into the issue and tried to address it.

For it's part, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was "unhappy" with Tesla's early release of information about the crash while it is still conducting an investigation. On Sunday, NTSB spokesman Chris O'Neil expressed the agency's displeasure by saying:

"At this time the NTSB needs the assistance of Tesla to decode the data the vehicle recorded. In each of our investigations involving a Tesla vehicle, Tesla has been extremely cooperative on assisting with the vehicle data. However, the NTSB is unhappy with the release of investigative information by Tesla."