Ford's hands-free driver assistance feature is nearly here, and now it has a name. BlueCruise will be available later this year starting with the all-new Ford F-150 and the Mustang Mach-E, with the automaker expecting to deliver more than 100,000 vehicles offering the feature by the end of 2021.
Much like GM's Super Cruise, BlueCruise is designed to work on pre-mapped divided highways, rather than allowing the driver to go hands-off on any type of roadway. Ford won't yet say what it's capable of, choosing to reveal the finer points of the system closer to its launch. Ford says that lane change assist is planned as a future upgrade, along with predictive speed assist that can adjust speed for corners, roundabouts, and other situations. Ford said it won't yet work while towing.
Ford says that to start, more than 177,000 km of divided highway in the U.S. and Canada will be covered by the system. That's less than Super Cruise, but, like that offering, the number of highways compatible with the system will increase over time thanks to over-the-air updates. To test the vehicle, Ford completed more than 800,000 km of on-road evaluations followed by what it calls the Mother of All Road Trips. That journey saw 10 vehicles (five F-150s and five Mach-Es) take a combined 177,000-km journey through 38 states and five provinces to test out the system in different environments, on different roadways, and with the subtly different markings that each area has.
BlueCruise will work both day and night, and Ford says that it has ensured the system can work in inclement weather, depending on the severity of conditions. Ford also points out it uses on-screen info to show if the feature is on or available to use and the display is effective even for drivers with colourblindness.
On the F-150, BlueCruise will be offered standard on Platinum and Limited and part of the Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 package on Lariat and King Ranch models for $2,100. On the Mach-E, it's standard on CA Route 1, Premium, and First Edition, and part of a Comfort and Technology pack on the Select trim for $3,390.
While the hardware is already installed on those vehicles, including the driver-facing cameras that make sure you're watching the road even when your hands are off the wheel, once the software becomes available, a three-year service period will cost $750. Ford says the BlueCruise software will launch in the second half of the year.