A preliminary report published by the NTBS doesn't place blame on anyone for the crash and states that driver Jeremy Beren Banner engaged Autopilot roughly 10 seconds before the crash.
"Despite the fact that Tesla has a number of very bright engineers - and for all his faults, Elon is brilliant - the structural challenges of autonomous driving are significant and perhaps insurmountable", said DA Davidson analyst Tom Forte.
An advertisement promotes Tesla Autopilot at a showroom of USA auto manufacturer Tesla.
The Model 3 was going 68 miles per hour when it hit the trailer on United States 441, and the speed limit was 55 mph, the report said.
The Autopilot system is actually the star of the show in Nico's Hands-Free Podcast, as he drives around interviewing his passengers while the vehicle does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to driving down the highway. I really enjoyed talking with Nico as we drove from Ventura, California, up to Santa Barbara, California, and back with quite a bit of help from Tesla's Autopilot system.
"Either Autopilot can't see the broad side of an 18-wheeler, or it can't react safely to it", said Friedman, a vice president for advocacy at Consumer Reports. The system also can keep a auto in its lane, change lanes and navigate freeway interchanges.
He said Tesla "must restrict Autopilot to conditions where it can be used safely and install a far more effective system to verify driver engagement".
There have been at least 14 instances of Tesla cars catching fire since 2013, a lot of them following a crash.
The accident bore an eerie similarity to a Florida highway crash three years earlier, when Joshua Brown was killed when his Tesla passed under a semi truck that was crossing a highway in Williston, Fla.
"From less than 8 seconds before the crash to the time of impact, the vehicle did not detect the driver's hands on the steering wheel", the NTSB noted. That incident is being investigated by both the NTSB and NHTSA.
Tesla has maintained that the system is designed only to assist drivers, who must pay attention at all times and be ready to intervene.
T Rowe had 1.7 million Tesla shares on Mar 31, and it once held 8.9 million shares in December 2018 as per a filing with the SEC, the Securities and Exchange Commission. It was not clear if Autopilot was engaged in this incident.