A Level 2 hands-free advanced driver assistance system has been introduced by Ford with regulatory approval for use on certain parts of the motorway network in the UK – the first system of its kind approved in Europe.
With 193,000 BlueCruise-equipped Ford and Lincoln vehicles having completed more than 102,000,000km in Canada and the USA, drivers of enabled Mustang Mach-E models in the UK will now be able to utilize Ford BlueCruise technology for “hands-off, eyes-on” driving on 3,700km of pre-mapped motorways called Blue Zones in England, Scotland and Wales.
Ford’s BlueCruise system monitors road markings, speed signs and changing traffic conditions while controlling steering, acceleration, braking and lane positioning. The OEM’s smart solution can also maintain safe and consistent distances to vehicles ahead. When BlueCruise is active, advanced infrared camera technology is used to check that the vehicle’s driver is still paying attention.
“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, Ford Model e, Europe. “Modern highways can be demanding even for the most confident drivers, and intimidating for many. BlueCruise can do some of the ‘heavy lifting’, to make highway driving less of a chore, and give drivers that little extra confidence and convenience.”
“Today marks a significant moment for our industry as Ford BlueCruise becomes the first hands-free driving system of its kind to receive approval for use in Great Britain,” said Lisa Brankin, managing director, Ford UK & Ireland. “We have always strived to make technology accessible for our customers, and BlueCruise is this next step on this journey, making motorway driving a more comfortable experience.”
To date, the hands-free driving system has been tested for more than 1,100,000km and Ford anticipates that BlueCruise will be activated in additional European countries when regulatory conditions permit. Furthermore, the smart system will be rolled out to additional Ford vehicle over the next few years.
Before hands-free driving is activated, BlueCruise-equipped vehicles confirm that lane markings are visible, that the driver has their eyes on the road and that other conditions are appropriate. The solution can be used at speeds of up to 130km/h and uses a combination of radars and cameras to detect and track the position and speed of other vehicles on the road. If the systems detects that the driver is distracted, warning messages are displayed in the vehicle’s instrument cluster, followed by sound alerts, brake activations and the eventual slowing of the vehicle.
Ford engineers conducted 160,000km of testing on European roads to validate the company’s latest-generation advanced driver assistance systems including BlueCruise and its supporting features. Validation drives were also conducted in the UK to ensure the systems could handle circumstances such as worn-out lane markings, poor weather and roadworks.
“There’s a good reason why Ford BlueCruise is the first hands-free driving system of its kind to be cleared for use in a European country: we’ve proven that it can support the driver while still requiring that they keep their eyes on the road for their safety and that of their passengers while the system is active. That means BlueCruise can help make other road users’ journeys more comfortable too,” said Torsten Wey, chief engineer, advanced driver assistance systems, Ford Europe.