Ford has introduced its “BlueCruise” hands-free driving system for its electric cars, making it legal for UK drivers to let go of their steering wheels on British roads for the first time.
The Department for Transport has approved the “Level 2” driver-assistance system, which allows for automatic adjustments of speed, steering around corners, and braking while driving on motorways, with the caveat that drivers must still keep their eyes on the road and overtaking is not permitted.
Ford BlueCruise is designed to work only on motorways in England, Wales, and Scotland, using location sensors to determine if the vehicle is on approved roads.
In combination with Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane-Centring systems, BlueCruise provides a convenient and safe driving experience. Drivers can take their hands off the steering wheel while the system maintains a cruising speed and keeps in lane.
To ensure your attention on the road, an infrared camera tracks your eye gaze and head position. If the system detects that you are not looking at the road, it will notify you with an alert message displayed in the instrument cluster or by sounding an audible chime, reminding you to refocus on the road.
It’s important to note that hands should only be removed from the steering wheel in designated Hands-Free Blue Zones, and you should always be prepared to resume control of the vehicle and watch the road. Motorists are still legally required to pay attention to the road and not use their mobile phones or otherwise take their attention away from driving.
Ford has conducted extensive testing, covering 100,000 miles, to ensure that BlueCruise can handle various driving conditions in the UK, including worn-out lane markings, roadworks, and poor weather.
BlueCruise is available on Mustang Mach-E models built after November 3, 2022, and is currently available only in Great Britain (excluding Northern Ireland) for £50,750. Ford said owners would get 90 days free when buying the car and would then have to pay £17.99 a month for the upgrade.
Jesse Norman, the transport minister, said: “It is great news that Ford has chosen Great Britain for the European launch of their BlueCruise technology, and I am delighted that this country is once more at the forefront of innovation.
“The latest advanced driver assistance systems make driving smoother and easier, but they can also make roads safer by reducing the scope for driver error.”
Mercedes and Tesla are using Driver assisted and Driverless cars
Mercedes-Benz’s Drive Pilot is a cutting-edge advanced driver assistance system (ADAS) that allows drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel and feet off the pedals under specific conditions, similar to other “hands-free” highway driving systems like GM’s Super Cruise, Ford’s BlueCruise, and Tesla’s Autopilot.
Recently certified for use in Nevada, Drive Pilot is the first Level 3 ADAS that is road-legal in the United States, after gaining approval in Germany last year. Mercedes-Benz’s Level 3 ADAS goes beyond Level 2 systems by enabling drivers to look away from the road, although they must remain ready to take over control at any moment. California is the next target market for Mercedes-Benz’s Drive Pilot.