This technology is available in Europe on the Mustang Mach-E electric SUV.
BlueCruise allows drivers to let go of the steering wheel on mapped highways.
Level 3 and 4 systems might still be more than 10 years away.
Ford has now become the first automaker to offer a hands-free level 2 autonomous driving system in Europe.
The electric Ford Mustang Mach-E can now be ordered with the company’s BlueCruise system by buyers across Europe since the technology has received all of the necessary regulatory approvals.
This means that European drivers can now remove their hands from the steering wheel and let the vehicle drive itself under certain circumstances.
As in North America, BlueCruise is only available on highways that have previously been mapped by Ford because it relies on navigation data in addition to the vehicle’s onboard sensors and cameras.
This precaution might be the reason why this system was granted approval before other similar technologies such as Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Beta.
At the moment, 3,680 kilometres of highways and motorways in the United Kingdom have been mapped for use with BlueCruise and this figure should steadily grow in the coming months. The system has been designed to operate at speeds up to 130 km/h, which is a common speed limit in parts of the continent.
According to the automaker, American and Canadian drivers have now covered about 96 million kilometres with BlueCruise engaged in Ford and Lincoln vehicles since the system was introduced last year.
In Europe, BlueCruise will be available as a subscription that will incur a monthly fee of £17,99 in the UK or €20,44 on the mainland. Each new 2023 Mustang Mach-E will offer a free 90-day trial period to allow owners to determine if they want the autonomous driving capabilities.
While drivers don’t have to hold the steering wheel like in other level 2 driver assistance systems, BlueCruise is not a level 3 technology since it still requires the driver to monitor the road ahead at all times.
In order to make sure the driver remains attentive, Ford installed infrared cameras that monitor the driver. If the system detects drowsiness or inattention, it will issue a series of warnings to try and get a response. If nothing happens, the vehicle will then be brought to a stop until the driver takes back control.
While this is an improvement over current autonomous driving technologies, experts such as Dr. Yu Kai, CEO of Horizon Robotics, believe that level 3 and 4 autonomous driving systems (technologies that don’t require driver attention for parts of or an entire journey) are still at least 10 years away since most drivers aren’t ready to fully give up control to their vehicle.
Source: Fleet Europe