Thatcham Research provides ‘BlueCruise’ clarity

Thatcham Research has provided clarity around the term ‘BlueCruise’, after Ford announced it was launching the first ‘hands-free’ assisted driving system in the UK.

Thatcham Research Vehicle Technology Specialist Tom Leggett said: “While many reports have suggested that Ford has launched Britain’s first ‘self-driving’ car, this is the next development in assisted driving technology. When activated, the system will control speed and distance from the car in front, as well as keeping the vehicle centred in its lane.

“What makes it different is that for the first time ever drivers will be permitted to take their hands off the wheel. However, their eyes must remain on the road ahead; we call this ‘hands-off, eyes-on’ driving.

“Before BlueCruise can be enabled, a robust Driver Monitoring System (DMS) using infrared cameras positioned in the instrument cluster, will ensure that the driver has their eyes on the road. Crucially, the driver is not permitted to use their mobile, fall asleep or conduct any activity that takes attention away from the road.

“This demonstrates just how important DMS is, not only in enabling current assisted driving technology like BlueCruise but also as we move towards fuller levels of automation in the future.”

Leggett has emphasised that although the vehicle can help control speed and position in lane, the driver is still wholly responsible for safety.

He said: “We would expect car makers to ensure safe adoption by way of driver education and clear messaging in the vehicle manual and on the dashboard.”