The Ford Mustang Mach-E is the first EV in Britain to go “Hands Free”
The 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E has become the first autonomous EV in the UK thanks to its new advanced driver assistance system, which enables the vehicle to self-drive on pre-mapped motorways.
Ford's "BlueCruise" allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel if they are still paying attention to the road ahead on 2,300 miles of approved "Blue Zone" portions of highway (the whole motorway network in England, Scotland, and Wales). It uses geofencing technology, which uses GPS to create a virtual boundary which can only be engaged inside designated "Blue Zones."
Before switching to hands-free driving at "Level 2" (Partial Driving Automation), BlueCruise-equipped cars make sure that the lane lines around the car are clear and checks that the driver has their hands on the wheel and their eyes on the road, and all other required driving conditions are suitable.
BlueCruise, which travels at up to 80 mph, uses a combination of radars and cameras to identify and monitor the whereabouts and speed of other cars on the road. The technology uses an infrared driver-facing camera below the instrument cluster to monitor the driver's line of vision and head positioning to make certain that the attention of the driver is focussed on the road in front of them. The system also has a forward-facing camera to detect lane markings and speed signs.
When the vehicle detects it has entered an authorised Blue Zone on a public roadway, the Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control (IACC) is turned on and BlueCruise hands-free driving becomes accessible. The hands-free driving setting can be activated by the driver using the vehicle's driver assistance settings menu. When exiting a Blue Zone, the system will switch back to IACC.
Drivers can remove their hands from the wheel while keeping their eyes on the road when the instrument display instructs them to do so. This enables the vehicle to:
- Adapt the vehicle's top speed to the limits indicated in the navigation system, on overhead gantries, and at the side of the road.
- Position the vehicle in accordance with lane markers, making use of In-Lane repositioning to discreetly move away from traffic in adjacent lanes in order to make the driving experience feel more natural.
- Permit drivers to momentarily regain steering control.
- Keep pace with traffic around them up to a selected top speed and to slow down to a complete stop.
Ford has tested sophisticated driver assistance systems for more than 700,000 miles across the globe, and owners of 193,000 Ford and Lincoln vehicles equipped with BlueCruise have already logged in excess of 64 million hands-free miles in the US and Canada. Ford claims that test drives in the UK demonstrated the vehicle's capacity to deal with everyday driving challenges like worn-out lane markings, bad weather, and roadworks.
First to be able to activate BlueCruise via subscription will be British owners of Ford Mustang Mach-E cars from the 2023 model year. After the initial 90 days, which are free with the purchase of the vehicle, there are subscription costs, currently priced at £17.99 per month.
Ford hopes to make BlueCruise available to pre 2023 Mustang Mach-E models with the optional Tech Pack or Tech Pack+ via a future software update.
If you need to charge your EV, please check out our Mustang Mach-E charging cables.
Image source: Ford UK