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The United States will probe a fatal crash in Texas, potentially linked to a Ford partially automated driving system.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has launched an investigation into a tragic accident in San Antonio, Texas, involving a Ford electric vehicle potentially utilizing a partially automated driving system. The incident occurred on February 24th on Interstate 10, prompting the NTSB to dispatch a team from its Office of Highway Safety to collaborate with local authorities.

Preliminary information reveals that a Ford Mustang Mach-E SUV equipped with the company’s partially automated driving system rear-ended a stationary Honda CR-V in one of the highway lanes. According to reports from television station KSAT, the driver of the Mach-E informed the police that the Honda was stationary in the middle lane without any lights illuminated at the time of the collision, which occurred around 9:50 p.m. Tragically, the 56-year-old driver of the CR-V lost their life in the crash.

The NTSB’s interest in advanced driver assistance systems and human interaction with such technologies propels their investigation into this fatal crash. Ford’s Blue Cruise system, for instance, permits drivers to disengage from steering while it manages steering, braking, and acceleration on highways. Despite this capability, the system remains semi-autonomous, with continuous monitoring of drivers to ensure attentiveness to the road. Ford asserts that Blue Cruise operates on 97% of controlled access highways in the United States and Canada.

It’s worth noting that fully autonomous vehicles are not commercially available in the U.S. market. As part of their inquiry, NTSB investigators will scrutinize the wreckage, gather evidence from the crash site, and delve into the circumstances leading up to the collision. A preliminary report is anticipated within 30 days.

In response to the incident, Ford has issued a statement expressing their commitment to investigating the crash while acknowledging that conclusive facts are yet to be established. The company extends its sympathies to all affected parties and has promptly notified the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about the incident.

Both NHTSA and NTSB have previously examined numerous accidents involving partially automated driving systems, particularly Tesla’s Autopilot. Past investigations by NTSB have focused on the functionality of these systems and the interactions between drivers and the technology. As the investigation unfolds, the focus remains on understanding the factors contributing to this tragic collision and enhancing safety measures for automated driving systems.

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