Ford has become the first car manufacturer to gain approval for the use of “hands-off, eyes-on” advanced driver assistance technology in the UK.
Mustang Mach-E drivers equipped with Ford’s new Level 2 BlueCruise system are now legally able to drive with their hands off the wheel.
In a first of its kind for a system of this type in Europe, the tech can be used on 2,300 miles of pre-mapped motorways in England, Scotland and Wales.
These pre-designated ‘Blue Zones’ will allow the driver to travel in hands-free mode, providing they pay attention to the road ahead, and it can be operated at speeds of up to 80mph.
The system monitors road markings, speed signs and traffic conditions and then uses this to control the vehicle’s steering, acceleration and lane positioning.
It also allows the car to maintain a safe distance to the vehicles ahead, but it can also automatically slow the vehicle down should traffic build up ahead.
In-car cameras also monitor the driver’s attentiveness to ensure that they’re maintaining concentration on the road ahead. These infra-red driver-facing cameras check the driver’s eye gaze and head pose, even if they’re wearing sunglasses.
If it detects that the driver isn’t being attentive, it will display a warning message in the instrument cluster. This will be followed by audible alerts and will finally apply the brake and slow the vehicle if the driver fails to look at the road. This will also occur if the driver fails to place their hands back on the wheel when they return to an area outside of a Blue Zone.
“It’s not every day that you can say you’ve placed one foot in the future, but Ford BlueCruise becoming the first hands-free driving system of its kind to receive approval for use in a European country is a significant step forward for our industry,” said Martin Sander, general manager of Ford’s electric division in Europe.
Drivers of the 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-e will be the first that can access BlueCruise via a subscription.
The first 90 days are included with the car’s price, but after that it’ll require a £17.99 monthly subscription.