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US Authorities Probe Ford’s BlueCruise Technology After Fatal Crashes

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has initiated an investigation into Ford’s BlueCruise driver assistance system following two tragic collisions resulting in fatalities.

The NHTSA disclosed that in both incidents, Ford Mustang Mach-E vehicles equipped with BlueCruise collided with stationary vehicles during nighttime operation while the system was engaged.

BlueCruise, designed as a driver assistance technology, permits hands-free driving on specific roadways, typically highways. Ford has pledged cooperation with the NHTSA in its investigation.

One fatal crash occurred in February, where a Ford Mustang Mach-E utilizing BlueCruise struck the rear of a stationary Honda, resulting in the death of the 56-year-old driver of the stopped vehicle, as reported by Reuters. Another crash involving a Ford Mach-E occurred in March in Philadelphia.

The NHTSA’s preliminary inquiry will scrutinize the driver monitoring capabilities of the BlueCruise system and its overall performance in driving tasks.

Separately, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is conducting its investigation into the two crashes.

In the United Kingdom, BlueCruise has been authorized for use on certain motorways, albeit with distinct implementation methods and regulatory frameworks, experts note. Its operation permits hands-off driving, provided the driver maintains visual attention to the road.

The UK government sanctioned the “hands-off, eyes-on” feature last April, emphasizing its potential to enhance road safety by minimizing driver errors, according to transport minister Jesse Norman.

Although the Department for Transport refrained from commenting on the ongoing US investigation, it underscored that Ford’s BlueCruise system underwent rigorous evaluation before receiving approval for use in the UK.

The NHTSA’s inquiry echoes its recent scrutiny of Tesla’s Autopilot system’s efficacy following safety concerns. Autopilot, like BlueCruise, operates as a Level 2 autonomous driving software, necessitating driver alertness and manual control.

Tesla issued a large-scale recall via an over-the-air software update to address safety issues identified in its Autopilot system in December.

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