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Ford brings first 'hands-off, eyes-on' assisted driving system to the UK
Ford brings first 'hands-off, eyes-on' assisted driving system to the UK

Press release -

COMMENT: Ford pioneers ‘hands-off, eyes-on’ driving in the UK

Following news today from Ford, announcing that it has launched the UK’s first ‘hands-free’ assisted driving system, Thatcham Research Vehicle Technology Specialist Tom Leggett offers an expert view, explaining what “BlueCruise” is and, importantly, what it isn’t:

“While many reports have suggested that Ford has launched Britain’s first ‘self-driving’ car, this is the next development in assisteddriving 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.

“It will be available only on selected motorways initially.

“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.”

Who’s in control?

Leggett continues, “Although the vehicle can help control speed and position in lane, the driver is still wholly responsible for safety.

“It’s therefore no surprise that Ford and other car makers are looking to introduce technologies like this ahead of ‘Level 3’ Automated Lane Keeping Systems, which have experienced lingering questions around liability especially. Because BlueCruise users remain responsible and liable, a lot of the legal and technical complexities of automation and self-driving have been avoided, while still offering drivers a beneficial comfort feature that can reduce fatigue on long, monotonous journeys.

“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.”

Automotive risk intelligence company Thatcham Research is constantly investigating this technology, with its work linking the corners of the triangle comprising car makers, regulators, and insurers, to ensure the safe adoption of assisted and automated driving systems.

It will also continue to work with Euro NCAP to assess new assisted driving systems as they come to market.


Thatcham Research is the independent voice of automotive safety, security & repair, advising motorists, insurers and vehicle manufacturers to help reduce accident frequency, severity and costs and to realise the vision of ‘Safer cars, fewer crashes’, while driving standards in vehicle security.

As well as its world leading crash and track research, Thatcham Research develops repair methods amongst a number of other products and services within the collision repair industry for insurers, motor manufacturers, equipment manufacturers and suppliers.

In addition, Thatcham Research has administered the Association of British Insurer’s (ABI) Group Rating system for the past 50 years. Group Rating is an advisory system intended to provide insurers with the relative risk of private cars and light commercial vehicles.

A founder member of the international Research Council for Automobile Repairs (RCAR), Thatcham Research has also been a member of the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) since 2004.


Tom Flisher

Tom Flisher

Press contact PR Manager 07876 755 615

Thatcham Research

Safer cars, fewer crashes...

As the UK's only insurer funded automotive research centre, Thatcham Research enjoy a wide remit at the forefront of the latest vehicle technology. Thatcham's leading work in vehicle safety and security has a vital role in shaping the designs of new vehicles, whilst the centre is also seen as a key industry player at the forefront of driving standards in vehicle body repair.

Thatcham's Crash Laboratory is the only official UK crash testing centre for consumer safety body Euro NCAP and are viewed as a centre of excellence when it comes to active vehicle safety, particularly the evaluation of new Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) which provide the foundation for future vehicle autonomy.

Enjoying an increasingly global influence in both the insurance and automotive sectors, Thatcham Research expertise is in great demand with a range of opinion leaders being regularly asked to provide their experience and know-how at high profile events and in the media, living up to their reputation as ‘Experts in Safety, Security and Crash Repair’.

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