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Level 2 hands-free driving approved for UK motorways

Ford has been granted approval for its Level 2 hands-free advanced driver assistance system to be driven on UK motorways.

BlueCruise ensures drivers remain alert to road conditions
BlueCruise ensures drivers remain alert to road conditions - Ford Motor Company

Drivers of Ford BlueCruise-enabled Mustang Mach-E models can use ‘hands-off, eyes-on’ driving technology on so-called Blue Zones, amounting to 2,300 miles of travel pre-mapped motorways in England, Scotland and Wales.

According to Ford, BlueCruise monitors road markings, speed signs and evolving traffic conditions to control steering, acceleration, braking and lane positioning, as well as maintain safe and consistent distances to vehicles ahead. Infrared camera technology continually checks driver attentiveness for safety and confidence.

UK owners of Ford Mustang Mach-E model year 2023 vehicles will be the first to be able to activate BlueCruise which is included in the first 90 days after purchase, followed by a £17.99 monthly subscription.

“It is great news that Ford has chosen us for the European launch of its BlueCruise technology, and I am delighted that this country is once more at the forefront of innovation,” said Jesse Norman, UK transport minister. “The latest advanced driver assistance systems make driving smoother and easier, but they can also help make roads safer by reducing scope for driver error.”

Before transitioning to hands-free driving, BlueCruise-equipped vehicles confirm that lane markings are visible, that the driver is watching the road and that other conditions are appropriate. The system uses animated cluster transitions featuring text and blue lighting cues to communicate that the feature is in hands-free mode.

Operating up to a maximum speed of 80mph, BlueCruise is said to use a combination of radars and cameras to detect and track the position and speed of other vehicles on the road. A forward-facing camera detects lane markings and speed signs and the infrared driver-facing camera checks the driver’s eye gaze and head pose to ensure attention remains focused on the road.

Ford's BlueCruise has been approved for use on Blue Zones on UK motorways - Ford Motor Company

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.  


Ford expects BlueCruise to be approved in more European countries pending regulatory consents, and the technology will be incorporated into further Ford vehicles in the coming years.

Commenting on Ford’s announcement, Tom Leggett, Thatcham Research vehicle technology specialist, said: “What makes [BlueCruise] different is that for the first time ever drivers will be permitted to take their hands off the wheel. Although the vehicle can help control speed and position in lane, the driver is still wholly responsible for safety.

“It’s therefore no surprise that Ford and other car makers are looking to introduce technologies like this ahead of ‘Level 3’ Automated Lane Keeping Systems, which have experienced lingering questions around liability especially.

Leggett continued: “Because BlueCruise users remain responsible and liable, a lot of the legal and technical complexities of automation and self-driving have been avoided.”