Ford Introduces BlueCruise Hands-Free Driving Technology For 2021 Ford F-150 And Mustang Mach-E
You have to love the sound of the phrase “Mother of All Road Trips.” Who hasn’t been on epic road trips? Ford announced the “Mother of All Road Trips” recently as a way to test and vet their new hands-free driving technology called BlueCruise. I love that name!
Ford test drivers and engineers embarked on this road trip using five 2021 Ford F-150 trucks and five all-electric Mustang Mach-E crossovers. Combined, they travelled over 110,000 miles spanning 37 states and five Canadian provinces over the course of 62 days. So when they say, they tested and vetted this new hands-free technology, they thoroughly tested it over a wide range of road, weather and traffic conditions.
Related story: Ford partners with Mappo to offer travel-oriented navigation in F-150.
“There are highway intricacies and driving conditions that you simply cannot replicate in a lab,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford chief product platform and operations officer. “Sending these vehicles out for real-world driving experience is just one of many ways we ensured that BlueCruise technology offers confidence and convenience for drivers all across the continent.”
BlueCruise and Ford Co-Pilot 360
BlueCruise is part of Ford’s advanced new driving system that inches them closer toward autonomy. General Motors has had a similar system call SuperCruise that they created a couple of years ago. Likewise Tesla has AutoPilot mode.
Using both advanced camera and radar-sensing technologies and building upon Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go, Lane Centering and Speed Sign Recognition, BlueCruise adds a new level of convenience for drivers with vehicles equipped with Ford Co-Pilot360 Technology. The feature allows a driver to operate truly hands-free on prequalified sections of divided highways called Hands-Free Blue Zones. A driver-facing camera in the instrument cluster monitors eye gaze and head position to help ensure the driver’s eyes remain on the road.
Check out the video below for a presentation of how it works.
Currently, more than 100,000 miles of highways across North America are dedicated Hands-Free Blue Zones in the Ford GPS mapping system. BlueCruise uses blue lighting on the digital instrument cluster to indicate when the vehicle is in a hands-free zone.
Related story: Ford partners with connected car service.
In addition to the full hands-free mode, equipped vehicles will also feature Lane Centering mode. Lane Centering works on most roads with lane lines and can help keep the vehicle centered in its lane but requires drivers to keep their hands on the steering wheel. In either mode, a visual prompt on the instrument cluster notifies drivers when they need to return their attention to the road or resume control of the vehicle.
BlueCruise is an SAE Level 2 driver-assist technology, similar to Tesla Autopilot but with the advantage of offering a true hands-free driving experience while in Hands-Free Mode that does not require a driver’s hands to stay in contact with the steering wheel, unless prompted by vehicle alerts.
And unlike other approaches – such as GM’s Super Cruise, which uses red and green lighting, or Tesla’s Autopilot, which requires a driver keep their hands on the steering wheel – BlueCruise communicates with drivers in different ways. The instrument cluster transitions to communicate that the feature is in Hands-Free mode through text and blue lighting cues, effective even for those with color blindness.
BlueCruise will be pushed to customers in Ford Co-Pilot 360 Active 2.0 package-equipped 2021 Ford F-150 and Mustang Mach-E via over-the-air-updates.
How Much Does BlueCruise Cost?
2021 F-150 and 2021 Mustang Mach-E customers will be able to purchase BlueCruise software – including a three-year service period – for $600 in the second half of 2021, when it’s ready to launch. Hardware pricing varies by vehicle.
For F-150, BlueCruise is available as a part of the Ford Co-Pilot 360 Active 2.0 package for a total of $1,595 – $600 for the software and $995 for the hardware. The Ford Co-Pilot 360 Active 2.0 package is standard on F-150 Limited and available as an option on Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum models.
For Mustang Mach-E, BlueCruise comes standard on CA Route 1, Premium and First Edition variants. It’s an available package on the Select trim for $3,200 – $ 600 for the software and $2,600 for the rest of the package – as part of the larger Comfort and Technology package, which includes features such as a 360-degree camera, heated front seats and heated steering wheel.
Related story: Canadian EV expert explains why he chose the Mach-E over a Tesla.
I drove a Cadillac equipped with the SuperCruise technology for nearly 75 miles without ever touching the steering wheel or the gas pedal or the brake. It required a lot of trust in the technology, but it was also cool. I could see Ford’s BlueCruise having a lot of merit for long (boring) drives and be a real useful asset for both the F-150 and Mustang Mach-E. Ford does intend to put BlueCruise in other vehicles in the future.
What do you think about this technology? Do you trust it? Leave me your comments below.
Jimmy Dinsmore has been an automotive journalist for more than a decade and been a writer since the high school. His Driver’s Side column features new car reviews and runs in several newspapers throughout the country. He is also co-author of the book “Mustang by Design” and “Ford Trucks: A Unique Look at the Technical History of America’s Most Popular Truck”. Also, Jimmy works in the social media marketing world for a Canadian automotive training aid manufacturing company. Follow Jimmy on Facebook, Twitter, at his special Ford F-150 coverage on Twitter and LinkedIn. You can read the most of Jimmy's stories by searching Torque News Ford for daily Ford vehicle report.