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Ford's BlueCruise Technology Gets UK Approval: Hands-Off Driving is a reality


UK authorities have given the green light to Ford's BlueCruise technology, allowing drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel while moving legally.


The "hands-off, eyes-on" technology is approved for use on specific motorways and can manage steering, acceleration, and braking. A camera will keep an eye on drivers to ensure they remain attentive.


Initially, the technology will only be accessible in the 2023 Ford electric Mustang Mach-E SUV models.   Autonomous driving The new Ford Mustang Mach-E


The 'hands off' system allows the vehicle to maintain a safe distance from other cars. It will also allow the car to come to a complete stop in busy traffic situations.


Thatcham Research, an automotive research company, emphasised that this isn't a self-driving car but rather "the next development in assisted driving technology."


Tom Leggett, a technology expert at Thatcham, explained that drivers must keep their eyes on the road even when their hands are off the wheel.


Activities that divert attention from the road, such as using a mobile phone or sleeping, are prohibited. Ford's vehicle has a £50,830 price tag, and the hands-off technology will be free for the first 90 days, after which a monthly subscription is required.


The new Mustang Mach-e, which began to leave the factory last month, has a top speed of 80mph.


It uses cameras and sensors to sense lane markings, speed signs, and the positions and speeds of other traffic on the road.


According to Transport Minister Jesse Norman, advanced driver assistance systems make driving smoother and more comfortable and contribute to safer roads by reducing the potential for driver mistakes.


Lisa Brankin, Managing Director of Ford in Britain and Ireland, informed the BBC's Today programme that the vehicle will only take control when it is deemed safe in specific "blue zones."


How the 'hands-free' system works


  • If a driver's eyes are closed, the car will prompt the driver to regain control of the steering wheel.
  • If there is no response from the driver, the vehicle will gradually slow down to a stop.


Autonomous driving or not?


In the event of an accident, the driver remains fully responsible for insurance claims, as the technology is "not autonomous driving", and the driver is still in control.


BlueCruise technology is a "Level 2" driver assistance system, as categorised by the Society of Automotive Engineers.


While there are six levels of autonomous driving, this technology still requires human intervention in case of an issue.


Ford's BlueCruise technology has been available in the US and Canada since 2021, with over 190,000 Ford and Lincoln vehicles covering more than 60 million miles using the technology without any reported accidents.


As driverless vehicle technology continues to advance, we can expect further developments in both the capabilities of these systems and the regulations governing their use.


This will likely lead to a gradual shift towards increased automation.


The aim of fully autonomous driving systems that can safely navigate driving without human intervention may not be a reality just yet. However, the new Ford Mustang Mach-e is a step in the right direction.