Monday, May 27, 2024

Ford introduces hands-free driving in Britain

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A few weeks ago, Ford presented the first car in Europe with a self-driving system on a highway, thanks to a feature that will soon be available on this continent, which allows the driver to travel at a speed of one hundred kilometers per hour without the need to hold the steering wheel.
Taking the M11 motorway north of London, the little four-wheel drive can take its hands off the wheel, cruise at 100km/h, brake automatically when a truck approaches, then quietly continue in the center of the lane.

The driver’s hands are free, but he cannot use a mobile phone as his eyes must remain fixed on the road. The car has infrared cameras and sensors that penetrate sunglasses, even if vision is lost for more than ten seconds, and the car’s computer says, “Watch the road, regain control.”

Ford will implement the “BlockCruz” feature on its most popular electric car, the Mustang Mach-E, in the United Kingdom in April 2023.

Launched in the US in 2021, the feature features four lanes and barriers on England’s 6,000km of motorways, known as “blue zones” and separating two lanes down the middle from Dover to Scotland.

So far 500 people have tested the feature, and its final approval requires them to pay 17.99 pounds (about $21) a month.

This feature is available in the US on the F-150 pickup truck or the Ford Expedition large SUV. According to the company, 200,000 drivers use this facility without registering any accidents. Ford’s rival General Motors offers the same advantage.

Automakers are engaged in a reputational battle over the self-driving system that represents the future of the industry. Mercedes allows driving without holding the steering wheel on German highways, but only in traffic jams, up to a speed of 60 kilometers per hour. Tesla owner Elon Musk has long promised that fully autonomous driving, known as “Level 4,” will be available soon.

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Ford, for its part, is counting on immediate applications, and in 2022 it finalized a self-driving research partnership it established with startup Argo AI.

“We are optimistic about the future of Stage 4, but we are still a long way from seeing mass-produced and profitable fully autonomous cars by the end of 2022,” said Jim Farley, general manager of the US company. “Things have changed, and Ford now has a huge opportunity to get people to spend time in their cars.”

According to Ford executive Dave Cunningham, the US company was the first to benefit from the exemption in the UK to allow hands-free driving.

He is currently in talks with British authorities to move to the next phase, which would allow cars to change lanes to overtake another vehicle using the signal.

For example, what is the benefit of this feature of not being allowed to use the phone or read a book?

Nadia Barnett
Nadia Barnett
"Award-winning beer geek. Extreme coffeeaholic. Introvert. Avid travel specialist. Hipster-friendly communicator."

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