Ford says it will start putting its hands-free highway driving technology into some of its US models from later this year.

The carmaker said its BlueCruise technology will be offered on its 2021 model year F-150 pick-up trucks as well as the Mustang

Mach-E electric crossovers equipped with its Co-Pilot360 driver assistance package.

“There are highway intricacies and driving conditions that you simply cannot replicate in a lab,” said Ford product executive Hau Thai-Tang.

“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.”

According to Ford, all 10 test vehicles spent much of last November and December winding their way across the US and Canada. Test drivers searched for every conceivable road condition and highway driving scenario, monitoring the system’s performance, collecting data and highlighting areas where improvements could be made.

As a real-world validation of the earlier tests, the road trip enabled the system to scan for variances in road signage, lane markings, exit ramps, traffic patterns and weather.

“I drive long-distance quite often, whether out to Boston or down to Florida to visit family or friends, and usually I mentally tire out on drives that far,” said BlueCruise engineer Alexandra Taylor, who logged around 5000km in an F-150. “The one thing that became clear is that, when using BlueCruise, long drives aren’t nearly as mentally taxing to me.”

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