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Ford's BlueCruise Hands-Free System Is the Subject of NTSB Probe

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Ford BlueCruise Is the Subject of a Federal ProbeFord
  • The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the role that Ford's BlueCruise hands-free driving system had in a recent fatal crash.

  • The NTSB indicates a BlueCruise-equipped Mustang Mach-E struck the rear of a Honda CR-V that was stationary on Highway 10 in San Antonio, Texas; the CR-V driver later died.

  • Both the NTSB and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have investigated driver-assistance systems in the past.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has opened an investigation into Ford's BlueCruise hand-free driver-assist system. The probe was spurred by a recent fatal crash that involved a Ford Mustang Mach-E equipped with BlueCruise. The accident occurred on February 24 in San Antonio, Texas. The NTSB's initial report states the Mach-E struck the rear end of a stationary Honda CR-V on Highway 10. The CR-V driver later died.

According to Reuters, a San Antonio police report said the Mach-E had "partial automation" engaged when the crash occurred. The Reuters report also states that the NTSB chose to investigate the crash "due to its continued interest in advanced driver assistance systems and how vehicle operators interact with these technologies." The NTSB's initial report should be available within 30 days.

2021 ford mustang mache gt
Michael Simari - Car and Driver

When reached for comment on the situation, a Ford spokesperson told Car and Driver, "We were recently made aware of this incident and extend our deepest sympathies to those involved. The complete facts of this event are not yet clear. Ford reported this incident to NHTSA as soon as we were made aware, and we are actively researching all available information. Safety is a top priority for all of us at Ford, and we will collaborate fully with any resulting investigation."

BlueCruise is classified as a Level 2 autonomous system. That means the driver is still responsible for the actions of the vehicle and must be ready to resume control if the situation requires it. To keep drivers from avoiding that responsibility, BlueCruise-equipped vehicles feature a camera and infrared light emitters in the cabin to monitor what they're watching. If the driver's eyes wander too long from the task at hand, BlueCruise will shut down.

The recent Mach-E crash and subsequent investigation came shortly after the IIHS failed nearly every automaker in a new rating program intended to evaluate partially automated driving systems. The NTSB is not alone in investigating the safety of new driver-aid systems. Other government safety agencies, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), are also actively researching the technology.

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