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Tesla withdraws as party to NTSB 'Autopilot' crash investigation

Reuters  |  WASHINGTON 

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Inc said it is withdrawing as a formal party to the National Transportation Safety Board's probe into a fatal March 23 crash in in which the semi-autonomous "Autopilot" driving system was in use.

The automaker's unusual step means it may not be privy to some information obtained by investigators before it is made public. Tesla's announcement, made late Wednesday in California, came after the company publicly blamed the for the crash and made a series of statements about the incident that drew criticism from the NTSB.

died in last month's crash and vehicle fire in a Inc Model X near Mountain View, California, prompting investigations by the NTSB and the

said in a statement it withdrew because the party agreement with the NTSB required "that we not release information about to the public, a requirement which we believe fundamentally affects public safety negatively." is a semi-autonomous system that handles some driving tasks.

NTSB declined to comment on a report that the board had removed status before the company's announcement, but said the agency would issue a formal statement later on Thursday. Being a party to an NTSB investigation requires participants to agree to limits on the "dissemination of investigation information," the NTSB website says.

and NTSB spoke over the weekend. Sumwalt told on Tuesday the NTSB had a good working relationship with Tesla, but added that companies must follow the rules if they are a formal party.

In its statement, said "an agreement that prevents public release of information for over a year is unacceptable. Even though we won't be a formal party, we will continue to provide technical assistance to the NTSB."

Huang's family said on Wednesday it had hired firm to explore legal options, adding the firm believed the feature probably caused his death.

The firm said its preliminary review of the crash suggested was defective and said it had uncovered complaints by other drivers of navigational errors by the system.

The NTSB has not disclosed any findings from the probe.

has said Huang had activated and it was in operation at the time of the crash. The company said vehicle logs from the accident showed no action had been taken by Huang before the crash and that he had received warnings from the system to put his hands on the wheel.

While sympathizing with the family, again blamed Huang on Wednesday, saying the was well aware that was not perfect and, specifically, he had previously told them it was not reliable in that exact location, but nonetheless he engaged

said the system always reminds drivers to be alert and to have hands on the wheel.

The NTSB confirmed earlier this week it has two other pending investigations of other crashes, including a probe of an August 2017 battery fire in Lake Forest, California, that occurred after an owner lost control and ran into his garage. That fire probe had not previously been reported.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Frances Kerry)

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Thu, April 12 2018. 23:16 IST