Ford rolls out UK’s first hands-free driving tech and first-of-its-kind system approved in Europe

Maybe self-driving cars are not that far off after all. Ford announced today that it has become the first automaker approved for “hands-free, eyes off” advanced driver assistance tech in Great Britain. According to Ford, the BlueCruise system is the first of its kind approved in Europe.

What is Ford’s BlueCruise hands-free system?

Ford’s BlueCruise is an SAE Level 2 driver assist technology often compared to Tesla’s Autopilot. But there’s one significant difference that sets it apart.

Ford’s driver assist offers a unique experience in that you can enjoy actual hands-free driving without needing to stay in contact with the steering wheel.

The system constantly monitors road markings, street signs (including speed), and rapidly changing traffic conditions to maneuver the vehicle using steering, acceleration, braking, and lane positioning to determine the ideal driving experience.

Using infrared camera technology to monitor your eyes and head position, BlueCruise keeps you engaged, alerting you if you need to return your eyes to the road. (You can see our full review of it here.)

The feature is already available in Ford and Lincoln models in the US and Canada, including the 2023 F-150 Lightning and Mustang Mach-E.

Nearly 200,000 BlueCruise-equipped drivers have driven over 64 million miles hands-free so far across North America, with features including stop-and-go, lane centering, adaptive cruise control, and speed sign reduction.

In fact, Ford’s hand-free BlueCruise system earned the top spot among Consumer Reports’ latest active driver assistance rankings above all EV makers. The automaker revealed Thursday the technology is now headed to Great Britain.

Ford brings the first hands-free system to Great Britain

In a press release, Ford announced it had become the first automaker to introduce hands-free driving tech in Great Britain with approval from the UK’s Department of Transport.

The BlueCruise system is the first technology of its kind approved in Europe and is now authorized for pre-mapped motorways across Great Britain.

Mustang Mach-E owners can enable the hands-free, “eyes-off” system on 2,300 miles (3,700 km) of preestablished motorways in England, Scotland, and Wales with a maximum speed of 80 mph (130 km/h).

Martin Sander, general manager for Ford Model e Europe, explained the importance of the approval, saying:

It’s not every day that you can say you’ve placed one foot in the future, but Ford BlueCruise becoming the first hands-free driving system of its kind to receive approval for use in a European country is a significant step forward for our industry.

Sander also posted a video on his Twitter test driving the Mustang Mach-e to show off its features, which you can view below.

Owners of the new 2023 Ford Mustang Mach-e will be the first to have the chance to use the BlueCruise system. Buyers will receive a subscription for the first 90 days and can continue it for £17.99 (roughly $22.5) a month.

Ford engineers have completed 100,000 miles (160,000 km) of testing across European roads in addition to the over 600,000 miles (950,000 km) covered across North America to ensure safety.

The US automaker also recently launched the fully electric Explorer SUV in Europe starting at less than $50,000 (€45,000). Read more about Ford’s electric Explorer here.