Hands-free driver assistance systems are becoming more common. From Tesla’s Autopilot system to GM’s Super Cruise, we’re seeing a slow rollout of tech aimed at ultimately achieving true autonomous driving. Now Ford is throwing its hat in the ring with its upcoming BlueCruise hands-free driver-assist system. After 500,000 development miles, Ford unleashed 10 vehicles equipped with its new system onto public highway miles on a huge road trip.

First, let’s take a look at Ford’s BlueCruise. The system actually has roots in the automaker’s older driver-assistance system dubbed Co-Pilot360. Similar to what you’ll find in other hands-free systems, BlueCruise uses camera technology and radar to keep the car away from other cars and in its own lane. Also like GM’s Super Cruise, Ford’s system only works in hands-free mode on predetermined sections of road dubbed “Blue Zones.” For those curious, Ford has mapped over 100,000 miles of approved highway ready for hands-free driving.

Using 10 vehicles—five F-150 pickups and 5 Mustang Mach-E electric crossovers—Ford logged over 110,000 miles spanning 37 states and five Canadian provinces along these Blue Zones. While most of the test cars launched from Ford’s home in Michigan, one tester started driving from Palo Alto, California. That means that these test cars saw an array of weather, road and traffic conditions, which should give some confidence to hands-free doubters.

“There are highway intricacies and driving conditions that you simply cannot replicate in a lab,” said Hau Thai-Tang, Ford’s 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 is expecting over 100,000 vehicles to hit customer driveways in the first full year of the tech’s availability, with BlueCruise expected to make its way to customers in the third quarter of this year. Folks who own 2021 F-150 pickups and Mustang Mach-E crossovers equipped with the Co-Pilot360 Active 2.0 Prep package can update their rides to BlueCruise with an over-the-air software update.

BlueCruise will set you back $600 for a three-year subscription to the software. The cost to add the hardware to your future F-150 will be $995, with the cost rising to $2,600 for the Mustang Mach-E.

Are you warming up to hands-free driving? Let us know in the comments below.

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