What is Ford BlueCruise, and How Does It Work?

Christian Wardlaw | Apr 20, 2021

Ford BlueCruise is a Level 2 advanced driving assistance system (ADAS). It pairs a vehicle’s adaptive cruise control system with a lane-centering assistance system and provides hands-free driving capability on over 100,000 miles of divided highways in the United States and Canada. Ford BlueCruise works similar to Super Cruise from General Motors.

Ford BlueCruise Hands Free Driving Illustration

Ford initially introduced this technology in 2020 as Active Drive Assist. With Jeep debuting Active Driving Assist, perhaps the decision-makers in Dearborn determined the two approaches were too close for comfort. Good thing the new BlueCruise moniker is catchier and easier to remember. 

BlueCruise will arrive during the second half of 2021 through an over-the-air software update. If you own a 2021 Ford F-150 or Mustang Mach-E equipped with the Ford Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep Package, then you’ll get BlueCruise when it’s ready for release. 

Ford will offer the hands-free driving technology on additional models and says it expects to sell 100,000 vehicles equipped with BlueCruise during the driving aid’s first year of availability.

How Does Ford BlueCruise Work? - Find the best Ford deals!

Ford BlueCruise uses data from a forward-facing camera and radar units combined with information from the navigation system’s GPS and map database. 

Ford BlueCruise Ford F-150 Hands Free Driving

Thanks to the GPS and map data, the technology knows when the vehicle is traveling on one of the approved sections of a divided highway, which are called Blue Zones. When the vehicle is in a Blue Zone, it communicates that status via text and blue lighting within the instrumentation.

To use BlueCruise, the driver activates the technology. If conditions are right, the system will take complete control of the vehicle, allowing the driver to let go of the steering wheel. BlueCruise uses adaptive cruise control with stop-and-go, lane-centering assistance, and speed sign recognition systems to handle all acceleration, braking, and steering tasks within the intended lane of travel. 

However, because BlueCruise is a Level 2 semi-autonomous technology, the driver must remain alert and ready to take full control of the vehicle at any time. 

A driver monitoring system continually observes the driver’s eyes and head position to ensure this readiness. If the driver becomes sleepy, or distracted, or attempts to do something else aside from drive, the system will issue a warning and cease operation shortly after that.

How Did Ford Test BlueCruise? - Find the best Ford deals!

During the validation process for BlueCruise, Ford employees put more than 500,000 miles of development testing into the technology. 

Last year, in 2020, the automaker fine-tuned the system by sending a fleet of 10 test vehicles to roam 110,000 miles of roads laced across 37 states and five Canadian provinces. Drivers faced every type of road in every kind of weather, each test vehicle collecting data during their travels. Ford used the collected data to fine-tune BlueCruise before making it available to customers.

“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.”

Roads change over time, though. To remain current, BlueCruise relies on regular map data updates, and that costs money. Ford will charge $600 for the BlueCruise software, which also covers the first three years of service. After that, continued use of the technology will require a subscription.

What’s Next for Ford BlueCruise? - Find the best Ford deals!

Ford plans to enhance BlueCruise over time. The automaker will add more Hands-Free Blue Zones and offer Lane Change Assist and Predictive Speed Assist features.

When BlueCruise is active, if the driver signals a lane change, the Lane Change Assist function will autonomously steer the vehicle into the next lane as long as it is safe to do so. According to Ford, Predictive Speed Assist will automatically adjust the vehicle’s speed for curves, roundabouts, and more.

Summary - Find the best Ford deals!

Ford BlueCruise is a sophisticated ADAS, one of several hands-free Level 2 technologies rolling out from mainstream and luxury automakers. Tesla might grab all of the headlines – good and bad – with its Autopilot system, but Ford is showing Elon Musk that his electric cars and advanced technologies are not the only game in town.

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