Mustang Mach-E is first car approved for autonomous driving in Europe
Company car drivers are able to activate “hands-off, eyes-off” autonomous vehicle technology for the first time in Europe today, following regulatory approval for Level 2 autonomy in the Ford Mustang Mach-E.
UK authorities have approved the use of Ford’s BlueCruise self-driving technology on 3,680km (2,300 miles) of pre-mapped ‘Blue Zone’ sections of motorways.
BlueCruise deploys a forward-facing camera to detect lane markings and speed signs, while five radars detect and track the position and speed of other vehicles to maintain a safe and consistent distance from them. The autonomous system can control steering, acceleration, braking and lane positioning, and is capable of bringing the Mach-E to a complete stop in traffic jams.
Drive at speeds of up to 130kmh
Drivers can drive with their hands off the steering wheel at speeds of up to 130kmh (80mph), so long as they continue to pay attention to the road ahead. Infrared camera technology continually checks driver attentiveness, and if the system detects driver inattention it triggers a series of warnings, starting with alerts in the instrument cluster, followed by audible alerts, brake activations, and finally the slowing of the Mach-E to a safe place to park.
Drivers are also warned to return to hands-on driving when they leave a Blue Zone.
The subscription service is available on 2023 model year Mach-E cars and will cost £17.99 (€20.44) per month (it is free for the first 90 days). Ford said it is working on a potential software upgrade to older models.
BlueCruise was launched in the US and Canada last year, where drivers of more than 190,000 Ford and Lincoln vehicles have now covered more than 96 million kilometres (60m miles) of BlueCruise-enabled, hands-free driving.
Torsten Wey, manager, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, Ford Europe, said: “Ford BlueCruise is the first hands-free driving system to be cleared for use in a European country: we’ve proven beyond doubt that it can support the driver while also ensuring that they keep their eyes on the road for their safety and that of their passengers while the system is active.”
Level 3 & 4 autonomy 10 years away
At the China EV100 Forum, Dr. Yu Kai, Founder and CEO of Horizon Robotics, said Level 2 autonomy, known as partial automation, fulfilled current consumer needs, and suggested that more advanced Level 3 and 4 autonomous vehicles were unlikely to appear within the next decade.
He said drivers’ primary demand is not to fully replace human drivers with autonomous technology, but rather to enhance driving experience and make it safer and more convenient, reducing stress and fatigue.
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