Car industry Autonomous Technology | News

UPTAKE of Ford’s hands-free driving option, called BlueCruise, is growing fast in the US as it promises a version of autonomous driving on certain “qualified” highways.

BlueCruise is available as an over-the-air (OTA) download to compatible vehicles and only really kicked off last year. It is gaining momentum as retrofitting (uploading) the system to earlier models grows in popularity.

True autonomous driving has huge appeal for many people as it holds the promise of being able to get in the car and pretty much tell it to take you somewhere.

Legal intricacies aside, autonomous driving in Australia is possibly closer than you think judging by the US experience that has seen the cumulative number of miles by BlueCruise-equipped Ford cars, particularly the F-150 pick-up (pictured) and the new Mustang Mach -E models jump markedly in the past month.

Ford says 15,000 of its 2021 F-150 and Mustang Mach-E customers have received the BlueCruise technology through Ford Power-Up software updates with 35,000 more in process which, combined with factory offerings, means approximately 66,500 customers are now enjoying the hands-free highway driving innovation that was launched in July 2021.

Recorded BlueCruise hands-free driving miles more than doubled to 10.6 million (17 million kilometers) since last month with Las Vegas and Cape Canaveral rated as top stretches of prequalified divided highway sections called Hands-Free Blue Zones where the system can be used.

Ford says BlueCruise is a good example of their Power-Up OTA technology transforming ownership experiences by regularly making vehicles better over time and redefining periodic customer relationships to “always on.”

Ford is aggregating voluntarily shared, anonymised (secret) data to make BlueCruise even better by refining visuals, sensing and steering to help the system ‘drive’ more like people. And now Power-Up software updates are bringing BlueCruise to more customers who bought vehicles before the technology was launched.

“We are rapidly increasing the number of digital vehicles on the road with new services that create ‘always-on’ customer relationships with great software experiences,” said Ford CEO Jim Farley.

“BlueCruise is a great example as customers have driven more than 10 thousand million hands-free in just one year since we launched the capability and delivered it with a Ford Power-Up software update.

“BlueCruise caps the first year of Ford Power-Up software updates, demonstrating the transformative capability to improve many computer-controlled vehicle systems – which most other major automakers lack – to regularly make vehicles better and deepen relationships with customers.

“The pace of BlueCruise hands-free highway driving uptake is accelerating as customers more than doubled mileage from last month alone – from 4.5 million miles (7.2 million km) cumulative to 10.6 million miles (17 million km).”

Recent BlueCruise data also shows customers are driving hands-free on highways most between Dallas and Houston, Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, and Cape Canaveral and Fort Lauderdale.

Farid Abdulhadi, program manager, Ford Power-Up Technology says, “Power-Up technology is the gift that keeps giving. Ford BlueCruise software updates are a powerful example of this. One day you’re driving normally and the next hands-free.”

“Ford is helping lead the mainstream adoption of advanced software update capability, similar to how smartphones changed the world of flip phones.”

The BlueCruise software update highlights a series of new features and enhancements – including Mustang Mach-E games, EV charging and driving upgrades as well as F-150 productivity features – Ford has delivered in the first year since launching the technology.