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Ford's BlueCruise Under Investigation After Fatal Crashes

Federal safety regulators on a investigation into Ford’s hands-free driver assistance, after two recent fatal crashes
April 29, 2024

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has launched an investigation into Ford's hands-free driver assistance system, BlueCruise, after its involvement in two fatal crashes. This development marks a significant escalation in scrutiny on BlueCruise, raising questions about the safety of advanced driver assistance systems.

The NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) confirmed that BlueCruise was active during both fatal crashes, one in February in Texas and the other in early April in Pennsylvania. These crashes are the first known fatalities involving the use of BlueCruise, prompting the NHTSA to intensify its examination of the system.

BlueCruise, available on the Mustang Mach-E and certain Ford F-150s (including the Lightning), Explorers, and Expeditions, is now under increased scrutiny. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has also initiated an investigation into the Texas crash.

This investigation follows closely on the heels of the closure of a high-profile investigation into Tesla's Autopilot system. The NHTSA concluded that a "critical safety gap" between drivers' expectations and Autopilot's true capabilities led to "foreseeable misuse and avoidable crashes."

Ford introduced BlueCruise in 2021 with tighter constraints compared to systems like Tesla's Autopilot. BlueCruise is only available on pre-mapped highways and is paired with a camera-based driver monitoring system that ensures drivers keep their eyes on the road when the system is active.

Despite positive ratings from some, including Consumer Reports, these recent crashes and investigations raise concerns about the safety of advanced driver assistance systems.

The investigation into Ford's BlueCruise marks a critical moment in the evolution of driver assistance technologies. As scrutiny on advanced driver assistance systems intensifies, questions about their safety and efficacy continue to mount. The outcome of this investigation may have far-reaching implications for the future of autonomous driving technology.

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