Last year, Ford harmlessly used ten test vehicles to take part in what the American automaker calls the “mother of all road driving” to mark the final stage of development of its latest BlueCruise hands-free driving technology. And now Ford has announced that BlueCruise will be available for download via wireless software updates later this year.
BlueCruise will initially be available for the 2021 F-150 electric vehicle and Mustang Mach-E equipped with the Ford Co-Pilot 360 Active 2.0 package. The latter is standard at F-150 Limited for $ 1,595 ($ 600 for the software and $ 995 for the hardware) and optional for the Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum models. The $ 600 BlueCruise subscription is active for a three-year service period.
BlueCruise is now standard in the trim models 2021 Mustang Mach-E CA Route 1, Premium and First Edition. The Mustang Mach-E Select can have BlueCruise for an additional $ 3,200, which covers $ 2,600 for the hardware and $ 600 for the BlueCruise software.
BlueCruise is a natural evolution of the Ford Co-Pilot 360 and enables hands-free calling on more than 100,000 miles of dedicated, hands-free Blue Zone freeways in North America. BlueCruise works similarly to Cadillac Super Cruise and Tesla Autopilot. Even so, the Ford system allows the driver to participate in a truly hands-free driving experience without the driver’s hands having to stay in contact with the bike.
And unlike other level 2 autonomous driver assistants, Ford’s BlueCruise communicates with the driver via text and blue lighting cues. And even if your hands aren’t touching the steering wheel, the system has a camera facing the driver to ensure your eyes are on the road at all times in hands-free mode.
BlueCruise uses a complex architecture of cameras and radar sensors and uses adaptive cruise control, stop-and-go, lane centering and speed sign recognition to navigate the motorway. It also has a lane-centering feature to keep your car between the lines, but it only works when your hands are on the steering wheel. Regardless of this, the system issues a visual prompt on the instrument panel when driver intervention is required.
BlueCruise will be offered for other Ford vehicles in the foreseeable future, although hardware costs will vary depending on the product range. Legacy automakers are catching up with the level 2 autonomous wave, with Ford being the youngest of the largest automakers to introduce a completely hands-free driving system. Toyota recently presented its autonomous driving technology Advanced Drive in the Mirai FCEV and in the Lexus LS 500h. We expect more to appear soon.
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