Ford to offer BlueCruise hands-free highway driving technology later this year via OTA to select F-150, Mach-E models
Via over-the-air (OTA) software updates, Ford will offer its BlueCruise hands-free highway driving technology later this year on 2021 F-150 and 2021 Mustang Mach-E models equipped with the available Ford Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep Package. Over-the-air software updates allow owners of select Ford vehicles to update software from the convenience of their own garage.
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.
BlueCruise uses both advanced camera and radar-sensing technologies and building upon Intelligent Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go, Lane Centering and Speed Sign Recognition. 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.
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.
BlueCruise in the F-150
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.
Beyond the 2021 F-150 and 2021 Mustang Mach-E, additional Ford vehicles will also receive BlueCruise hands-free driving technology, while current owners continue to receive over-the-air software updates to add new features and capabilities in the coming years.
Future enhancements are planned to include Lane Change Assist that will let the vehicle change lanes with just a tap of the turn signal indicator, and Predictive Speed Assist that will adjust vehicle speed for road curves, roundabouts and more.
Ford also plans to offer regular mapping updates for the technology to recognize changes plus thousands of miles of planned new road additions.
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.