Ford took its next-generation driver-assist technology on a North American road trip that covered more than 100,000 miles.
The hands-free highway driving feature, which the U.S. auto giant is calling BlueCruise (formerly Active Drive Assist), was tested in five 2021 F-150 trucks and five all-electric 2021 Mustang Mach-E vehicles ahead of a rollout for owners of the same vehicles later this year.
The road trip, featured in the video at the top of this page, tested BlueCruise’s hands-free driving technology in real-world conditions over 62 days, through 37 states and 5 Canadian provinces.
Ford’s BlueCruise technology ensures vehicles stay centered in the lane, and can also handle stop-and-go traffic. The automaker said it tested the system on faded highway lines and during thousands of miles of severe weather.
Celebrating the test in a tweet, Ford CEO Jim Farley appeared to take a swipe at Tesla, which features similar technology in its own vehicles, saying: “BlueCruise! We tested it in the real world, so our customers don’t have to.” Toward the end of last year, Tesla released a beta version of its premium driver-assist system, called “Full Self-Driving,” for select Tesla drivers to try out.
BlueCruise! We tested it in the real world, so our customers don’t have to. pic.twitter.com/dgqVkWH31r
— Jim Farley (@jimfarley98) April 14, 2021
Emphasizing safety, Ford notes that its driver-assist features are “supplemental and do not replace the driver’s attention, judgment, and need to control the vehicle.” Tesla, for the record, issues a similar note of caution to its customers.
To ensure drivers stay focused on the road and don’t embark on any hazardous shenanigans such as playing with their phones while cruising along, BlueCruise issues a prompt telling the driver to retake control if it detects a lapse in attention. For this, it uses multiple interior cameras to track not only the driver’s head movements, but also their eye movements, a feat that Ford claims the technology can perform even if the driver is wearing sunglasses.
As for pricing, Ford explains: “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.”
Commenting on the latest version of its driver-assist technology, Ford safety engineer Alexandra Taylor said: “Driving can be an exhilarating and empowering experience, it can even be relaxing, but occasionally driving can be stressful … We’re confident that BlueCruise hands-free technology will make some highway driving a much less stressful driving experience.”