We take Ford’s groundbreaking Blue Cruise autonomous vehicle for a test drive. Even though I’m familiar with the newest developments in automotive technology, I admit that I was a little suspicious when I was given the chance to test Blue Cruise in a Ford Mustang Mach-E. What’s new, really? technology for driving I’ve used hands-free technology in cars from brands like Tesla, Volvo, Nissan, and Audi throughout the years.

The Department for Transport has authorised Blue Cruise as the first “hands-off, eyes-on” advanced driver assistance system on about 2,300 miles of pre-mapped motorways in the UK. This makes it unique.

The capabilities of Adaptive Cruise Control, which can autonomously follow traffic within permitted speed limits—even coming to a complete stop—are expanded upon by Blue Cruise.

In contrast to other technologies employed by competitors, Blue Cruise permits drivers on designated Blue Zone portions of motorways to operate their vehicles hands-free as long as they maintain their focus on the road ahead.

And as I discovered, the smooth overall experience is just as important as the ability to drive hands-free for extended periods of time.

I tested it on the M3 and M25 in portions. As soon as I switched from the A303, where I had been using adaptive cruise control, to the M3, the technology for driving worked flawlessly.

The driver’s display goes blue, the system detects that you are on a Blue Cruise motorway (the Ford website has a map of the entire network), it reads “hands free,” and you are free to continue.

Alternatively, your hands and feet are off, if that’s more your style, but not your eyes.

In the event that the system determines that the driver is not paying attention, the vehicle will first slow down while keeping steering control, then sound an alert, activate the brakes, and display warning messages on the driver’s screen.

As a result, once in a Blue Zone, a vehicle’s behaviour is similar to that of any intelligent adaptive cruise control (ACC) system, utilising a mix of radars and cameras to identify and monitor the location and velocity of other moving cars.

The system also uses an infrared driver-facing camera below the instrument cluster to check your eye gaze and head pose, even when you are wearing sunglasses, to ensure your attention is still on the road. In addition, a forward-facing camera detects lane markings and speed signs.

As with your first experience with adaptive cruise control, you just have to trust the technology for driving.

Fortunately, there were no scary moments for me, so I maintained my composure and refrained from reaching for the wheel.

I guess you could eat a sandwich or drink a bottle of water as long as you keep your eyes on the road, but I couldn’t think of anything better to do with my hands than to rest them on my lap.

There is no official law prohibiting eating while operating a vehicle, but if the police believe you are not in proper control of your car, they may prosecute you for careless technology for driving, which carries a £100 fine and three penalty points. This is similar to technology for driving any other kind of vehicle.

Unfortunately, changing lanes still requires you to regain control of the vehicle. It seems that our version of BlueCruise is less sophisticated than the US’s, where the laws are less stringent. Lane changes are automated there. To transfer lanes, simply turn on the indicator, and Blue Cruise will do the rest.

That being said, a Mustang Mach-E equipped with BlueCruise allows you to theoretically drive for hundreds of miles without taking your hands off the wheel, in contrast to other self-technology for driving systems. According to Ford, almost 95% of the UK’s highways are hands-free Blue Zones.

The fact that I felt more rested at the conclusion of my two trips may be the most significant lesson learned. Furthermore, I believe that if technology for driving relieved some of the burden on a particularly lengthy journey, I would be more attentive.

Therefore, Ford’s BlueCruise technology for driving is very remarkable. A different issue is whether the subscription is worthwhile.

After the initial ninety-nine days, which are covered by the car purchase, you will be required to pay £17.99 each month.

BlueCruise is now available on Mustang Mach-E models starting with the 2023 model year; however, Ford is developing OTA (over-the-air) software that will allow BlueCruise to be deployed as an update for all Mach-E owners who have the tech pack installed.

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