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Ford self-driving car gets first European approval for hands-free use on UK motorways

The UK has become the first country in Europe to allow hands-free driving technology.  The Department of Transport has allowed Ford to use driver assistance technology in some of its Mustang Mach-E vehicles on 2,300 miles (3,700 kilometers) of highways in England, Scotland and Wales.  The car still requires the driver to pay attention to the road, but the driver can take their hands off the wheel and feet off the pedals.  Owners of Mach-E 2023 models can subscribe to the hands-free service with a free 90-day trial.  In-vehicle technology monitors road markings, speed signs and traffic conditions to control steering, acceleration, braking and lane position.  It activates when the car detects it's on the freeway and deactivates when it detects the car has left the freeway.  The UK test included routes with hazards such as worn lane markings, bad weather and road works.  The Department of Transport gave Ford the green light after Ford shared data on the vehicle and tested it on UK roads and a total of 100,000 miles of European roads.  The UK test included routes with hazards such as worn lane markings, bad weather and road works.   Inside the car, infrared camera technology is used to check the driver's attention.  The technology is approved for use in North America.  Ford described the announcement as a "watershed moment for drivers" and said it expected the technology to roll out to other European countries in the coming years.  Lisa Brankin, General Manager, Ford UK and Ireland, said: "Today is an important moment for our industry as Ford BlueCruise becomes the first hands-free driving system of its kind to be approved for use in the UK.   "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."  Transport minister Jesse Norman added: "It is great news that Ford has chosen Great Britain for the European launch of their BlueCruise technology, and I am delighted that this country is once more at the forefront of innovation.  "The latest advanced driver assistance systems make driving smoother and easier, but they can also make roads safer by reducing scope for driver error."