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NHTSA Opens Probe Into Ford’s BlueCruise After Two Deadly Crashes

Key Takeaways

  • NHTSA probe investigates Ford BlueCruise crashes to evaluate system limitations and driver responsibilities.
  • Probe outcome could lead to recalls if defects are found.
  • Current self-driving systems are still far from full autonomy, emphasizing the need for responsible use and continual improvement.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has launched a probe into two high-profile nighttime crashes involving Ford’s BlueCruise hands-free semi-autonomous driving system that both resulted in deaths. This was first reported by Automotive News. As well as happening at night, both crashes occurred with stationary objects, raising serious concerns about the viability of the system when lighting is dim. If the system can’t see a parked car, what will happen when someone cuts you off?

The NHTSA is thinking the same thing, especially since it’s been confirmed the systems were active on the two Ford Mustang Mach-E prior to the accidents. These Level 2 systems are far from fully autonomous and require the driver to not only acknowledge their limitations in the terms and conditions but also understand the fact they may need to intervene at any time during their use.

An NHTSA Probe Is Good For The Consumer

After the accident last month, the NHTSA opened up an initial probe to determine if BlueCruise was active. During this time, Ford acknowledged the situation and offered its cooperation. The goal of this probe is to understand how serious the issues are and how deep they go.

“There is no priority higher than safety at Ford, and we have been collaborating fully with both the National Highway Transportation Safety Association (NHTSA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as the investigation into the February 24 incident continues. Timing on a full report has not been announced.”

The safety agency is going to request a ton of information from Ford and conduct tests itself. Once it does, it will determine if there is an alleged defect that the company can either choose to issue a recall for or, if the investigation escalates, the NHTSA can request one. The body recently forced Tesla to recall over 360,000 vehicles due to Full Self-Driving crash risks it deemed too significant to ignore. The NHTSA’s only goal is to make vehicles safer, and if that means automakers need to recall every car they’ve ever made, then so be it.

Dave Parker/Wikipedia

We’re Still Very Far From Full-Blown Self-Driving Vehicles.

Although companies like Tesla wouldn’t have you believe we’re far from an autonomous future with their utterly confusing naming conventions. Despite the ability to take your hands off of the steering wheel in many situations, a full, Level 5 self-driving vehicle is more than 10 years away at best. The systems currently on the road, as impressive as they are, are nowhere close to capable enough to get you safely to your destination 100% of the time. Even if they’re perfect 99% of the time, when it comes to people’s lives, there’s no room for error.

Related

Ford and Volkswagen Shut Down Self-Driving Startup Argo AI Due To Costs

The two auto giants shutter Argo AI.

These automakers understand this, which is why there’s been a major shift in recent years towards focusing on much more realistic Level 2 and 3 autonomous driving systems and away from the more ambitious ones until software and technology improve. Ford itself shut down its joint self-driving investment with Volkswagen, Argo.AI, a year and a half ago for this exact reason, instead deciding to focus on improving its BlueCruise system itself. Unfortunately, we don’t think this has turned out as it had planned, but hopefully, the correct steps can be taken in a timely manner to ensure no more deaths happen at the hands of ambitious new technology.

#NHTSA #Opens #Probe #Fords #BlueCruise #Deadly #Crashes

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