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Ford’s Hands-Free Driving Under NTSB Investigation After Fatal February Crash

Ford’s Hands-Free Driving Under NTSB Investigation After Fatal February Crash

Move over Tesla and Cruise, it looks like Ford is now also under the “autonomous driving” microscope from regulators. 

It was reported this week by The Drive that the NTSB has declared its intention to examine a deadly collision possibly involving Ford’s advanced hands-free driving assistance technology, BlueCruise.

The crash occurred on February 24 in San Antonio, Texas, around 9:50PM. The driver of a Ford Mustang Mach-E, traveling east on Interstate 10, collided with a stationary Honda CR-V located in the center lane, which was without its lights on.

As the report says, the impact resulted in the hospitalization of the Honda’s driver, 56-year-old Jeffrey Allen Johnson from Austin, who subsequently succumbed to his injuries.

“The NTSB, in coordination with the San Antonio Police Department, has opened a safety investigation into the Feb. 24 collision between an electric powered Ford Mustang Mach-E sport utility vehicle and a Honda CR-V on Interstate Highway 10 in San Antonio, Bexar County, Texas,” the NTSB wrote on their X account

The NTSB then announced on Friday its plan to investigate the crash, potentially linked to BlueCruise, equipped in the Mach-E.

BlueCruise, ranked just behind GM’s Super Cruise, enables hands-free driving on designated highways but requires driver attentiveness, monitored through eye movement tracking. This incident stands out due to its sophisticated driver monitoring system, differentiating it from past investigations into Tesla Autopilot crashes, where insufficient driver monitoring contributed to accidents, according to The Drive.

The report noted that enhanced driver monitoring systems and safety features like automatic emergency braking are designed to avert such accidents.

However, it remains uncertain if BlueCruise was engaged at the time of the crash, potentially marking the first accident involving hands-free technology. The implications of this could extend beyond Ford, depending on the outcome. Yet, this assumes the incident wasn’t just another case of distracted driving.

Recall, GM is slashing investment in its Cruise self-driving unit after government scrutiny and Tesla has been under the consistent watchful eye of both the NTSB and the NHTSA for the last few years. 

“This has been a big theme this year in auto; everyone has had to step back from the euphoria,” Barclays auto analyst Dan Levy said last year. 

Tue, 03/19/2024 – 13:15

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