Ford adds hands-free lane change with new BlueCruise 1.2

Starting this fall when the next-generation BlueCruise 1.2 active driver assistance launches, Ford is introducing three new features, including hands-free lane change. The American automaker said it had strengthened its Advanced Driver Assist Systems (ADAS) team to improve BlueCruise and ActiveGuide for Ford and Lincoln drivers. Nonetheless, current drivers will have to wait to experience this new hands-free feature.

Ford Motor Company first shared details of the BlueCruise hands-free driver assistance system in April 2021, when it debuted in the Mustang Mach-E. At the time, Ford compared the BlueCruise to Tesla’s Autopilot, stating the following:

BlueCruise is SAE Level 2 driver assistance technology, similar to Tesla Autopilot but with the advantage of offering a true hands-free driving experience when in Hands-Free Mode that does not require the driver’s hand to remain in contact with the steering wheel, unless prompted by a vehicle alert.

And unlike other approaches – such as GM’s Super Cruise, which uses red and green lights, or Tesla’s Autopilot, which requires the driver to remain at the wheel – the BlueCruise communicates with the driver in a different way. The instrument cluster transitions to communicate that the feature is in Hands-Free mode via text and blue lighting cues, effective even for those who are color blind.

As we pointed out at the time, it’s rare for an automaker to directly mention not one, but two competitors in a press release, especially a fellow American business. But “all is fair in love and war,” and Ford is definitely poised to battle against both for the EV sales crown of the decade.

Ford says the BlueCruise is coming to the Mustang Mach-E, followed by the Ford F-150 Lightning, via an over-the-air update. Now, Ford has announced a new and improved driver assistance, but it seems that only owners of the 2023 Mustang Mach-E will experience it, at least to begin with. Check out the latest Ford BlueCruise video below.

Ford introduces BlueCruise 1.2 on Mustang Mach-E 2023

According to a press release from Ford, BlueCruise 1.2 will arrive this fall alongside ActiveGlide 1.2 for Lincoln owners. Ford says that more than 75,000 drivers have combined more than 16 million miles of hands-free driving to date and that its team has been working to improve driver-assist technology to provide a more human-like feel when active.

Doug Field, head of EV and digital systems officer for the Ford Model e, talks about the latest upgrades:

We are investing in our ADAS team to continuously improve BlueCruise and ActiveGlide for our customers. Recent upgrades allow customers to order lane changes using just a turn signal, and make hands-free driving feel more human by slowing down turns smoothly, and leaving more room for large vehicles in neighboring lanes. These upgrades are just the beginning of a constant journey towards improving safety and, in the future, giving valuable time back to customers.

According to the release, Ford’s BlueCruise 1.2 will include three new hands-free features:

  • Line change assistance: The system will perform a hands-free lane change when the driver taps the turn signal and will even suggest when a lane change may be useful due to slow moving traffic
  • Predictive speed help: BlueCruise automatically and smoothly adjusts speed as the driver approaches sharp turns and will help warn the driver in advance that a speed change is imminent
  • Reposition on track: Helps hands-free highway driving feel more natural by keeping the vehicle in its lane while subtly shifting its position away from vehicles in adjacent lanes, especially semi-large trucks

Ford said the dedicated ADAS team is also continuing to improve the map with over-the-air updates to identify eligible sections of the highway where BlueCruise can be used. The roads currently stretch for more than 130,000 miles.

Ford states that the BlueCruise 1.2 will launch in the 2023 Mustang Mach-Es right off the assembly line, but previous owners of other Ford vehicles (including 2022 Mach-E owners), will have to wait.

We asked Ford if any other vehicles could access the latest BlueCruise features via an OTA update, and we were told not yet. A Ford representative said the company will share more information about the Ford Power-Up and Lincoln Enhance software updates at a later date.

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