The company has clocked more than 100,000 miles in real world testing.
Tesla has Full-Self Driving, Cadillac has Super Cruise, and now Ford has proven its own hand-free driving system, calling it BlueCruise. Ford put a half-million miles of development testing into the system, and just finished another 110,000-mile journey to test the system in the real world. It called the test, the Mother of All Road Trips; it included five F-150s, five Mach-Es, and covered 37 states plus five Canadian provinces.
The tech isn't available yet, but if you have a 2021 Ford F-150 or a Mustang Mach-E, and picked the Ford CoPilot 360 Active 2.0 Prep Package, you'll be receiving Blue Cruise through an over-the-air update later this year. Like Cadillac's system, BlueCruise will only work on prequalified highways Ford is calling "Hands-Free Blue Zones" that cover more than 100,000 miles in North America.
"There are highway intricacies and driving conditions that you simply cannot replicate in a lab," said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford chief product platform, and operations officer. "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."
Ford says additional vehicles will get BlueCruise in the coming years, and that it is adding new Blue Zones all the time. We asked the company when more roads were coming. A spokesperson said that "for the initial launch, 100,000-plus miles is where we landed. However, we will be providing additional mileage in future announcements."
Of the ten test vehicles, one left from Palo Alto, California, and the rest left from Ford's HQ in Dearborn. The teams spent last November and December on the road, trying to find every weird road condition non-conforming highway scenario. All the info was sent back to Ford in real-time.
"It was like mission control," driver-assist technology supervisor Justin Teems said. "We really wanted to push BlueCruise to its limits. Every state builds roads a little differently. When you include factors like lane line degradation, weather and construction, building a hands-free driving system becomes extremely complex. Those complexities are why Ford has the best team of engineers in the world working on it."
We asked Ford about those blue zones, and what would happen if one changed or was under construction after it was studied and marked as safe.
"It depends on the construction zone. The BlueCruise feature will work in a construction zone assuming there is appropriately infrastructure such as temporary lane lines," a Ford spokesperson said. "Reminder, the driver is in control and should use their best judgement when in a construction zone."
Ford CEO Jim Farley threw shade at Tesla Wednesday morning as the feature was announced, saying "BlueCruise! We tested it in the real world so our customers don't have to." He was obviously referencing all the Teslas stories we've seen about using its drivers as beta testers.
F-150 and Mach-E customers will be able to purchase the BlueCruise software, including a three-year service period, for $600. For F-150 that would be on top of the $995 price of the hardware, for a total of $1,595. For the 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. We can't wait to try it out, which should be soon.