From dashcam technologies to audible alarms, the automotive industry always has safety at its core when it comes to innovation. Now, it’s taken an enormous step to revolutionise how vehicles physically operate, but, will it catch on?
In a complete European first, Ford has recently been granted approval for its self-driving car to be used across British motorways; an exciting prospect and one which a government minister has commented that could help to make UK roads even safer.
How does the self-driving Ford work?
Drivers of the 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-E model will be able to subscribe to the self-driving BlueCruise service as part of a 90-day free trial, and this new technology will allow the speed and distance from the car to be set through the system, leaving the driver physically available to take their hands off the wheel and feet off the pedals.
The hands-free technology in the car itself works by monitoring road markings, speed signs and traffic levels to control steering, acceleration, braking and lane position.
Driver alertness is also checked in the car through an infrared camera technology system too.
However, it is still absolutely essential that drivers pay close attention to the roads even when in self-driving mode, as the hands-free technology will only kick in once the car recognises that it’s on a motorway, and will deactivate when it exits.
Where can the self-driving Ford be used?
The Department for Transport (DfT) has given their permission for Ford to use their latest driver assistance technology in Mach-E vehicles, along the 2,3000 mile motorway stretches only, across England, Scotland and Wales.
It’s a European first, and approval was granted after Ford shared vehicle testing data which included travelling UK routes with hazards such as worn-out lane markings, poor weather and roadworks, and a total of 100,000 miles of European roads in total.
Will the self-driving Ford be made available elsewhere?
Ford have described this approval as a “watershed moment for drivers”, and expect the technology to be rolled out in other European countries over the coming years.
What does the self-driving Ford mean for the UK?
This approval “marks a significant moment for our industry as Ford BlueCruise has become the first hands-free driving system of its kind to receive approval for use in Great Britain,” comments Ford’s managing director for the UK and Ireland, Lisa Brankin.
“We have always strived to make technology accessible for our customers, and BlueCruise is this next step on this journey, making motorway driving a more comfortable experience.”
Should drivers be concerned about self-driving technology?
According to the Transport Minister, Jesse Norman, Ford choosing the UK to launch their self-driving technology puts the country “once more at the forefront of innovation.”
He adds that “the latest advanced driver assistance systems make driving smoother and easier, but they can also make roads safer by reducing scope for driver error,” though it’s always important to remember that unfortunately, technology isn’t a silver bullet – it still needs to be used carefully and moderately.
The key to successfully adopting any new technology will always be proper training, and particularly for the fleet industry, it’s so important to be clear and transparent with drivers about what it means for them.
After all, vehicles with self-driving technology will still require drivers to pay attention to the road, but the fact is that no hands-free tech will ever beat having a real-life human behind the wheel.
So, how can we help?
Thanks to our sophisticated triage process – which is supported by our 24-hour control room, 300-strong fleet, vast range of equipment available on hand and the advanced technology it is equipped with – we’re able to promise, confidently, that no matter where you are, we’ll be there when you need us most.
With Egertons, you make one call to our team; and we’ll do the rest.
We’re ready when you are. Every time.