Ford: Autonomous driving in the UK

By subscribing, British drivers of the 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E can take their hands off the wheel on mapped motorways across Britain. But the car will make sure they don’t take their eyes off the road. This is the first time such Level 3 autonomous driving technology has been allowed to the general public in Europe. In Canada and the United States, 193,000 Bluecruise-equipped Fords and Lincolns have driven 102 million kilometers (64 million miles) in hands-free mode.

Bluegrouse

Bluecruise technology monitors road signs, speed codes and changing traffic conditions to control steering, acceleration, braking, lane position and distance to vehicles ahead. In traffic the car slows down and comes to a complete stop. However, advanced infrared camera technology continuously monitors the driver’s attention to ensure safety and vigilance, as the driver remains active at all times.

Specific circumstances

This driving mode uses the capabilities of Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control (IACC), using a combination of radar and cameras to detect and monitor the position and speed of other vehicles on the road. This system will run at a speed of 130 kmph. Before switching to hands-free driving, the Bluecruise system ensures that lane markings are visible, the driver’s eyes are on the road and other conditions are appropriate, once the driver turns on. A driver-facing infrared camera under the dashboard monitors his gaze and head position – even if he’s wearing sunglasses – to ensure the driver stays focused on the road ahead.

Look at the road

If the Ford Mustang Mach-E’s camera detects driver inattention, the car broadcasts warnings on the dashboard. These are followed by audible warnings and brakes slowing the car down. But during this process he constantly follows the road and checks the steering wheel. Similar measures are taken if the driver does not put his hands back on the wheel when exiting the blue zone. The driver can, of course, regain control of the vehicle at any time.

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Blue zones

Hands-free driving is only permitted on 3,700 km of pre-planned motorways in England, Scotland and Wales. These lanes are called “blue zones”. These are the only zones where the UK Department of Transport has approved Bluecruise technology for the first 90 days of vehicle purchase. After that, customers pay a monthly subscription of £17.99 (about €20.50). Ford plans to roll out BlueCruise in other European countries once regulations allow.

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