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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Ford Announces Drivers Can Go Hands-Free in Two Years

Ford CEO Jim Farley has announced that the company’s autonomous driving technology will allow drivers to go “hands and eyes off the road” as soon as 2026, enabling them to treat their vehicles like a portable office. This “Level 3 autonomy” would permit drivers to engage in activities like working, watching movies, or even sleeping while the vehicle is in control.

However, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has begun a preliminary inquiry into Ford’s BlueCruise hands-free driving technology following two fatal crashes involving stationary vehicles at night. The investigation will evaluate the system’s performance and driver monitoring capabilities.

Ford currently offers a “hands-free, eyes on” technology called BlueCruise, which is approved for use on pre-mapped motorways in the UK. It uses cameras to monitor driver attentiveness and prompts the driver to retake control if distracted. While BlueCruise is a Level 2 system requiring driver supervision, Farley claims Ford is close to achieving Level 3 autonomy, allowing complete hands-off operation.

The NHTSA’s investigation comes shortly after closing a probe into Tesla’s Autopilot system, citing concerns over its driver engagement system and permissive operating capabilities. The agency has identified potential safety gaps in advanced driver assistance systems, prompting scrutiny of Ford’s technology following the recent fatal incidents.

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