Well folks, it’s better late than never we suppose. Ford has just announced that they will be officially rolling out their Level 2 driver-assist technology later this year, and that it will carry the name BlueCruise. Not to be confused with BlueChew, a subscription service for generic Viagra and Cialias tablets, this new software promises to be better than both Tesla’s pseudo-autonomous Autopilot and General Motors’ Super Cruise systems. Along with information about the new autonomous vehicle software, Ford has also shared how they tested BlueCruise in the real world during what they called the Mother of All Road Trips, or MOART. Here’s what you need to know about this new Mustang Mach-E and Ford F-150 feature.
BlueCruise, like other Level 2 autonomous vehicle systems, uses advanced camera and radar-sensing technologies to remove the need for driver inputs on the road. This new offering builds upon Ford’s Co-Pilot360 suite, which includes adaptive cruise control, lane centering and speed sign recognition capabilities. The system is most similar to GM’s Super Cruise, in more than just the name. BlueCruise only allows truly hands-free driving on prequalified sections of divided highways, which Ford is calling Hands-Free Blue Zones. Also similar to General Motors, the system utilizes a driver-facing camera in the instrument cluster, which monitors a driver’s eyes and head position to help ensure they are actually focused on the road ahead. Ford says they’ve done a better job of this than their crosstown rival however, as the changes to the instrument cluster are more easily recognized. It even works well for those who are colorblind, which is a nice touch.
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After completing 500,000 miles of development testing, Ford decided that they needed to get the BlueCruise autonomous vehicle software out on the streets for a real-world shakedown. They did this by devising a massive road trip, which spanned 110,000 miles across 37 states and 5 Canadian provinces. The journey was divided up between 10 vehicles: five Mustang Mach-E’s and five Ford F-150’s. Nine of the vehicles departed from Ford’s Dearborn headquarters, while one left from Palo Alto, California. The journey took place last year, and was full of various weather and road conditions. A perfect way to see what BlueCruise is capable of.
“There are highway intricacies and driving conditions that you simply cannot replicate in a lab,” said Ford chief product platform and operations officer Hau Thai-Tang. “Sending these vehicles out for real-world driving experience is just one of many ways we ensured that BlueCruise technology offers confidence and convenience for drivers all across the continent.”
Currently BlueCruise is capable of traveling on over 100,000 miles of highways across North America in the aforementioned Hands-Free Blue Zones. The automaker plans to expand this capability as time moves on. The system is slated to become available to customers in a few months, though it is only available on vehicles with the Ford Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep Package. The price of this package varies depending on the vehicle, though it is currently only on offer for the Mustang Mach-E and the Ford F-150. The prep package costs $2,600 on applicable Mach-E models, and $995 for upper-tier F-150 offerings. The software itself will be available for owners via an over-the-air update, and is slated to cost $600 for a three-year service period.