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Ford's hands-free system BlueCruise prompts investigation following two fatal accidents

A crash test of Fords Mustang Mach-E

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(NHTSA)’s Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) announced an investigation into Ford’s advanced driver assistance system BlueCruise linked to two fatal accidents involving Ford’s Mustang Mach-E models.

The NHTSA has confirmed that in both cases the hands-free BlueCruise system was activated before the impact, TechCrunch reported. The premium feature has been available in a range of Ford and Lincoln vehicles since the model year 2021.

BlueCruise operates on 97% of U.S. and Canadian pre-mapped highways with no intersections or traffic signals. The system is not fully autonomous, and it is based on external cameras, as well as driver-facing cameras and infrared lighting monitoring the driver’s awareness. If the driver appears distracted, it alerts him to return his eyes to the road.

In the first case that happened in late February shortly before 10 P.M., the Ford Mustang Mach-E driving in the center lane of I-10 in San Antonio, Texas, slammed into a stationary Honda CR-V occupied by a 56-year-old driver. “Following the collision, the Honda overturned and came to rest in the left lane,” NHTSA said, adding that the driver of the Honda was fatally injured.

The other incident happened in early April on I-95 highway in Philadelphia. Early morning, another Ford Mustang Mach-E hit a stationary Toyota Prius and pushed it into another car, a Hyundai Elantra. Two people from the stationary cars were killed.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration added:

“ODI has opened this Preliminary Evaluation to investigate the Ford BlueCruise system equipped on the subject vehicles. This investigation will evaluate the system’s performance of the dynamic driving task and driver monitoring.”

The nighttime nature of the incidents highlighted by NHTSA is an important detail, given that BlueCruise is a camera-based system and its vision might be affected by surrounding conditions or weather.

TechCrunch cited Ford’s statement claiming the automaker is working with NHTSA to support the investigation.

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