Autonomous vehicle (AV) technology is currently being heavily developed by a number of companies, including Ford-backed Argo AI. But while we await the official launch of self-driving commercial services, automakers like Ford are either offering or preparing to offer driver-assist features like BlueCruise that allow drivers to cruise around hands-free, so long as they keep their eyes on the road. However, the Lincoln MKZ AV in this video was recently spied cruising down the highway while the driver was taking a nap.
The Lincoln MKZ AV is owned by WeRide, a Chinese autonomous vehicle company that isn’t affiliated with Ford or Argo AI but has a permit to operate in various parts of China and San Jose, California. The company has been offering a self-driving robotaxi service in China for a couple of years now, completing nearly 150,000 rides so far. Its Level 4 AD fleet is based on a self-developed hardware solution supplemented by 360-degree sensor coverage.
Obviously, this sort of behavior isn’t safe, as we haven’t quite reached the point where fully autonomous, Level 5 vehicles are fit for public roads. Even automakers and companies developing this technology are quick to admit that, which is precisely why a human operator is needed behind the wheel, paying attention and ready to take over in the event that something goes wrong.
— Self Driving Cars Lie (@SelfDrivingLie) October 11, 2021
Luckily, Ford’s BlueCruise and Lincoln’s ActiveGlide systems feature a driver-facing camera in the instrument cluster that monitors eye gaze and head position to help ensure the driver’s eyes remain on the road. A visual prompt on the instrument cluster notifies the driver when they need to return their attention to the road or resume control of the vehicle. However, as is usually always the case with these technologies, it is possible to circumvent this requirement, as Ford Authority reported back in August.