Ford has become the first vehicle manufacturer to receive Spanish approval for a hands-free driving vehicle, expanding the technology’s adoption in the European region.
Earlier this year, BlueCruise received approval for use on the motorway network in Great Britain, becoming the first advanced driver-assistance system to deliver “true hands-free driving” at highway speeds in the region. Approval in Germany followed, adding to approvals in the USA and Canada.
“Customers in Great Britain with BlueCruise-equipped Mustang Mach-E vehicles are using BlueCruise today on designated highways called Blue Zones, helping to make driving easier and more enjoyable, especially for long trips or daily commutes in traffic,” said Ford. “In the coming weeks, customers in Germany and Spain will be able to order BlueCruise-equipped Mustang Mach-E vehicles to use and enjoy.”
The Level 2 system monitors road markings, speed signs, and evolving traffic conditions to control steering, acceleration, braking, and lane positioning, as well as maintaining safe and consistent distances to vehicles ahead. Additionally, infrared camera technology continually checks driver attentiveness.
Before transitioning to hands-free driving, BlueCruise-equipped vehicles confirm that lane markings are visible, the driver has their eyes on the road, and 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, effective even for people with colour blindness.
Operating up to a maximum speed of 130 km/h, BlueCruise uses a combination of radar 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, while an infrared driver-facing camera located below the instrument cluster checks the driver’s head pose and eye gaze, even when they are wearing sunglasses, to ensure their attention is focused on the road.
If the system detects driver inattention, warning messages are 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 on the steering wheel when prompted on leaving a Blue Zone.
The company said that more than 260,000 BlueCruise-equipped Ford and Lincoln vehicles are on the road globally, with customers using the technology to clock up 200 million kilometres and more than 1.8 million hours of hands-free driving.