Ford will begin offering its new BlueCruise hands-free highway driving system to customers later in 2021 after 500,000 miles of development testing and fine-tuning the technology on a journey across the U.S. and Canada. Via over-the-air software updates, BlueCruise will be offered on 2021 F-150 and 2021 Mustang Mach-E models equipped with the available Ford Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep Package.
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.
In 2020, Ford sent a fleet of 10 test vehicles – five F-150 pickups and five all-electric Mustang Mach-E SUVs – to cover more than 110,000 miles through 37 states and five Canadian provinces to challenge BlueCruise against a wide range of road, weather and traffic conditions.
Hau Thai-Tang, Ford chief product platform and operations officer, says: “There are highway intricacies and driving conditions that you simply cannot replicate in a lab. 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.”
“I drive long-distance quite often, whether out to Boston or down to Florida to visit family or friends, and usually I mentally tire out on drives that far,” adds Alexandra Taylor, BlueCruise feature development engineer, who logged more than 3,000 miles in an F-150 on the trek. “The one thing that became clear is that, when using BlueCruise, long drives aren’t nearly as mentally taxing to me.”
Ford is targeting to sell more than 100,000 vehicles equipped with BlueCruise in the first year, based on company sales and take-rate projections.