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Ford launches first legal hands-off motorway driving aid

14 April 2023

Ford has introduced the first hands-off driver assistance system that can be used on motorways.

BlueCruise makes its debut on the Mustang Mach-E and is approved for use on UK roads by the Department for Transport (DfT).

It enables hands-free assisted driving at speeds of up to 80mph.

The system monitors road markings, speed signs and evolving traffic conditions to control steering, acceleration, braking and lane positioning, as well as to maintain safe and consistent distances to vehicles ahead – right down to a complete halt in traffic jams.

BlueCruise is classified as a Level 2 autonomous system and can be activated on 2,300 miles of pre-mapped motorways in England, Scotland and Wales, designated as Blue Zones. Drivers must remain attentive at all times and are monitored by an infrared camera continually.

If the system detects driver inattention, warning messages are first displayed in the instrument cluster, followed by audible alerts, brake activations, and finally slowing of the vehicle while maintaining steering control. Similar actions are performed if the driver fails to place their hands back on the steering wheel when prompted when leaving a Blue Zone. 

Here, Tom Leggett of Thatcham Research offers an expert view, explaining what “BlueCruise” is and, importantly, what it isn’t:

When activated, the system will control speed and distance from the car in front, as well as keeping the vehicle centred in its lane.

“It will be available only on selected motorways initially.

“What makes it different, is that for the first time ever drivers will be permitted to take their hands off the wheel. However, their eyes must remain on the road ahead; we call this ‘hands-off, eyes-on’ driving.

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