Ford’s forthcoming Level 2 hands-free driving-assist system is abandoning the Active Drive Assist moniker in favor of something with a little more flair. Meet BlueCruise, the Blue Oval’s answer to similar Level 2 setups from the likes of Tesla (Autopilot) and General Motors (Super Cruise).
Ford’s system is due to make its consumer debut in the second half of the year on 2021 F-150 and Mustang Mach-E models sporting the brand’s Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep package. Owners of these vehicles can soon spend $600 for an over-the-air software update that activates a three-year subscription to BlueCruise, which affords hands-free driving on more than 100,000 miles of (divided) highways throughout the United States and Canada.
At the moment, Ford fits Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep package-equipped F-150 and Mustang Mach-E models strictly with the hardware needed to get BlueCruise working, however, the Blue Oval plans to soon begin installing the hands-free driving-assist system’s software at the factory, as well. Currently, the company includes the hardware-only Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep package as standard equipment on 2021 Ford F-150 Limited and 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E CA Route 1, Premium, and First Edition trims. The Prep package is also available as a $995 option on 2021 Ford F-150 Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum trims. It’s also included in the 2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Select trim’s $2,600 Comfort and Technology package.
Once BlueCruise is enabled, though, Ford promises the hands-free driving-assist setup benefits from an intuitive interface. Whereas GM’s Super Cruise uses steering-wheel-mounted lights to let the driver know the state of the hands-free system, Ford’s BlueCruise uses the instrument cluster screen, which relies on text and blue graphics to let the driver know if hands-free driving can commence (or if it needs to conclude).
A driver-facing camera, meanwhile, keeps an eye on the driver’s gaze—even when the driver is wearing sunglasses—and hand position to make sure the individual behind the wheel is ready to take back control of the vehicle if necessary. For what it’s worth, Ford’s marketing manager for Co-Pilot 360, Karen Sullivan, assured members of the media that BlueCruise’s driver-attention data “only stays in the camera,” as opposed to getting sent elsewhere.
Ford plans to continuously improve upon BlueCruise, too, with additional over-the-air updates that ought to add future features such as lane change assist and predictive speed functions, as well as revisions to the system’s maps that will include more BlueCruise-compatible roads. While users will not be able to use BlueCruise while towing, Ford’s engineering supervisor for Co-Pilot 360, Michael Kane, implied future updates could address this issue.
Look for Ford to expand BlueCruise to other models in its lineup in the coming years. We also expect the technology to find its way to Ford’s luxury brand, Lincoln, albeit under a different name.