Ford’s hands-free BlueCruise comes under scrutiny after fatal crash

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The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating an incident involving Ford’s hands-free driver-assist strategy aft a Mustang Mach-E driver collapsed into different conveyance successful Texas, sidesplitting nan occupant. A 2nd fatal clang involving a Mach-E took spot successful Philadelphia, though it’s not known whether nan driver-assist strategy played a role. Both crashes progressive Mach-Es crashing into stationary vehicles.

The first incident took spot astatine 9:50PM connected February 24th extracurricular of San Antonio, Texas. According to a preliminary study from NTSB, nan 44-year-old driver of nan Mustang Mach-E was walking eastbound connected Interstate 10 erstwhile he rear-ended a stationary Honda CRV. The 56-year-old Honda driver was killed successful nan crash.

“Based connected information obtained from nan vehicle, nan driver had been operating nan conveyance successful BlueCruise mode earlier nan crash,” NTSB states.

BlueCruise is Ford’s hands-free driver-assist system, successful which nan conveyance uses cameras and sensors to power nan steering, acceleration, and braking connected definite mapped highways.

But while drivers tin return their hands disconnected nan steering instrumentality and their feet disconnected nan pedals, they request to support their eyes connected nan roadworthy and beryllium fresh to return power astatine a moment’s notice. Ford said that BlueCruise-equipped vehicles person already traveled complete 100 cardinal miles.

A 2nd incident occurred successful Philadelphia connected March 3rd. The Ford conveyance collided pinch a Hyundai Elantra and Toyota Prius, some of which were stationary successful recreation lanes connected I-95 and were struck from behind, according to NTSB. Both drivers of nan stationary cars were killed, and 1 whitethorn person been extracurricular of their vehicle, according to The Associated Press.

“Based connected information obtained from nan vehicle, nan driver had been operating nan conveyance successful BlueCruise mode earlier nan crash.”

“There is nary privilege higher than information astatine Ford, and we person been collaborating afloat pinch some National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA) and nan National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) arsenic nan investigation into nan February 24 incident continues,” Ford spokesperson Whitney Pineda said successful a connection connected nan February 24th crash. “Timing connected a afloat study has not been announced.”

On nan March 3rd crash, Pineda said, “Ford was precocious made alert of this incident via nan National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and person informed nan National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA) arsenic required. We are researching nan events of March 3 and collaborating afloat pinch some agencies to understand nan facts. We widen our sympathies to those involved.”

This is nan first investigation into Ford’s ADAS, which has been disposable since 2021. NTSB, which is an independent investigatory assemblage nether nan National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, has opened dozens of investigations into fatal crashes involving Tesla’s Autopilot — but that is mostly a usability of much Tesla vehicles connected nan roadworthy pinch precocious driver assistance systems than Ford.

But arsenic much BlueCruise-equipped Ford vehicles deed nan road, it stands to logic location will beryllium much crashes — and much investigations. Surveys show that galore group person trouble distinguishing betwixt ADAS and afloat automated driving systems, which tin lead to overconfidence successful nan technology. And location is compelling evidence that astir driver-assist systems are little safe than normal quality driving. Drivers thin to create an overreliance connected these systems moreover aft a short play of use. And erstwhile it’s clip to return backmost power of nan vehicle, their guidance times are slower than what’s considered safe.

The national authorities requires companies to report instances of crashes involving precocious driver assist, but location is presently nary rule prohibiting hands-free driving systems. Most companies put nan ineligible liability connected nan driver erstwhile it comes to crashes involving these systems, arguing that they still request to salary attraction to nan roadworthy erstwhile nan driver assistance is engaged. But Tesla precocious settled a lawsuit brought by nan family of a man killed erstwhile his Autopilot-equipped conveyance collapsed into a actual divider.

Source Technology