Ford’s new Blue Cruise hands-off driving feature is a solid first effort.

Ford BlueCruise Hands-Free Highs And Lows


Taking your fingers off the wheel of a near-6,000 pound 2022 Lincoln Navigator whilst you are in 70 mph visitors calls for no small quantity of confidence, however that is simply what Lincoln ActiveGlide encourages you to do. The contemporary in a slowly developing variety of fingers-loose motive force-help structures, ActiveGlide — or Ford BlueCruise as it is recognized in Ford’s line-up — debuts on Lincoln’s biggest and maximum lavish SUV, and guarantees much less pressure on prolonged dual carriageway jaunts. In the procedure, it takes on a ways greater set up rivals, like GM’s Super Cruise.

As need to cross with out saying — however which nevertheless wishes to be pointed out, given the continued confusion approximately motive force-help technologies — Lincoln ActiveGlide (or Ford BlueCruise) does not make a automobile self sustaining. This continues to be a Level 2 gadget, and the driving force continues to be answerable for its secure operation. Currently, there’s no vehicle, SUV, or truck to be had available in the marketplace that may power itself with out worrying human involvement.

Standard at the 2022 Navigator Reserve and Black Label trims, Lincoln pitches ActiveGlide as a comfort feature, and it builds at the automaker’s present adaptive cruise manage with stop-and-cross, lane centering, and pace signal recognition. Where that gadget calls for you to hold your fingers at the wheel, making use of torque in order that the auto is aware of you are nevertheless supervising and organized to take over, ActiveGlide Hands-Free makes use of an interest-tracking digital digicam instead.

Hands-loose, now no longer self-using

It’s installed in a bar at the back of the steerage wheel, and makes use of infrared emitters and an IR digital digicam to music the placement of each your head and your eyes. As lengthy as that deems you are paying interest, and so long as you are using on one of the pre-mapped stretches of divided dual carriageway withinside the US and Canada that Ford manufacturers as “Hands-Free Blue Zones,” — of which there are presently 130,000+ miles — ActiveGlide and BlueCruise will permit you to take your fingers off the steerage wheel.

If you appearance away, whether or not that is to look at the scenery, play with the infotainment gadget, or some thing else, the gadget will call for your interest back. Ignore the escalating collection of beeps and visible warnings, and ultimately, ActiveGlide will deactivate altogether.

Ford and Lincoln are not the primary to provide this sort of gadget commercially, of course. GM has had its Super Cruise to be had on pick out Cadillac fashions for a few years now, and has been progressively spreading it throughout its different nameplates. Super Cruise’s technique is largely the equal: a digital digicam maintains music of your interest, and so long as you are on a stretch of pre-mapped dual carriageway it may steer itself with out a restraining hand at the wheel.

Again, this isn’t always self sustaining using, wherein with the aid of using definition the automobile might be capable of perform itself with out a man or women worried at all. All symptoms and symptoms maintain to factor to such structures being a ways from market-ready. What it is, aleven though, is a manner to relieve a number of the tedium and intellectual workload from longer trips and dual carriageway visitors jams.

First impressions are properly

I’m a huge fan of Super Cruise, and I turned into mightily curious to peer how Ford and Lincoln’s gadget compared. In my revel in with numerous Cadillac fashions, I’ve observed I turn out to be street journeys feeling brisker and much less mentally tired. While I’m nevertheless worried with the procedure of using, it is usually simpler usual.

When it is running as promised, ActiveGlide has the equal center charms. There’s some thing disconcerting, initially, at taking your fingers off the wheel, mainly whilst you are in dual carriageway-pace visitors. Your hands hover simply over it, watching for that twitch or jolt if you want to verify your fears that the auto certainly can not be depended on to manipulate itself.

A few miles later, aleven though, and matters had been going swimmingly. The Navigator saved its now no longer-inconsiderable bulk well paced with the visitors ahead, with out getting too near their bumper for anyone’s comfort (you may regulate that, as you’ll with normal adaptive cruise manage, with a button at the steerage wheel). More unexpected nevertheless turned into how nicely it labored once I approached congestion, with the Lincoln easily slowing to a halt after which robotically selecting up once more whilst the auto in the front moved. If your each day go back and forth has you dealing with normal jams, that is absolutely a miles nicer manner of coping with them.

Confusion withinside the corners

Where matters commenced to battle a touch turned into withinside the corners. Or, greater exactly, now no longer all of them, however sufficient to be confusing. Sometimes ActiveGlide might call for I take over the steerage obligations as we entered a activate the dual carriageway, simplest resuming as soon as we had been through. The gadget, Lincoln tells me, is designed that manner, with a reasonably conservative technique to what cornering it may effectively handle.

Problem is, it does not appear completely consistent: virtually now no longer sufficient to be predictable. On a few tighter turns, wherein I turned into readying myself to take over the steerage, ActiveGlide did not turn out to be calling upon me. In different, apparently a ways much less difficult corners, I turned into amazed to locate the gadget turned into getting ready to deactivate.

It’s now no longer some thing I’ve located in my more than one reports with Super Cruise, and it sincerely undermines a number of your trust — and your diploma of relaxation — with ActiveGlide. Knowing you may want to be worried in greater competitive turns is one thing, however the uncertainty manner you are constantly second-guessing simply how adept the gadget will be. It saved me on my ft and attentive, yes, however I’m now no longer certain it turned into any greater enjoyable usual than certainly using myself might’ve been.

A UI that also wishes paintings

Adding to this is the manner ActiveGlide is provided withinside the device cluster and head-up show. Super Cruise has a committed mild bar embedded withinside the steerage wheel, which flashes exceptional colorings in line with the numerous degrees of the gadget’s operations. Lincoln, however, makes use of snap shots, icons, and colourful highlights withinside the Navigator’s normal device cluster instead, and I assume it may be making higher use of them.

Central is a image of the SUV, surrounded with the aid of using a blue halo. It does not, aleven though, come up with a stay readout of what cars ActiveGlide’s sensors have recognized across the Navigator, in contrast to Tesla’s Autopilot and its dynamic interface. The indicator for ActiveGlide being operational is a smaller steerage wheel image, offset to the side.

Potentially confusingly, Lincoln refers to each its fingers-on and its fingers-off structures below the ActiveGlide brand. For the former, the small wheel image has fingers gripping it; for the latter, the fingers are long gone and there may be a tiny “Hands-Free” legend above it. There had been times, as I peered on the show seeking to ensure which gadget turned into in play, whilst ActiveGlide commenced complaining that I turned into paying inadequate interest to the street ahead.

It appears like Lincoln ought to effectively turn the ones vehicle and steerage wheel snap shots around, and make the latter tons large and simpler to recognize at a glance. I’d now no longer argue with a broader variety of beeps and tones to speak gadget status, either, as there had been moments wherein I turned into being referred to as on to renew manage however that wasn’t at once obvious.

A properly start, with room for OTA improvement

The properly information is that, for the maximum part, Ford and Lincoln ought to deal with a variety of this uncertainty with software program updates. ActiveGlide and BlueCruise are a part of the automaker’s OTA-successful gadget, with the capability for upgrades, tweaks, and new capabilities being delivered remotely.

We’ve visible GM employ its comparable gadget, including new Super Cruise capabilities and massaging behaviors like lane-positioning. That’s some thing else that ActiveGlide ought to do with having adjusted, as I found out whilst a vehicle withinside the lane beside me swung extensive due to the fact the beefy Navigator turned into uncomfortably near the white lines. Hopefully Ford and Lincoln can even ultimately use it to supply such things as automated lane-changes, which Super Cruise and Autopilot can do, however BlueCruise and ActiveGlide presently cannot.

Beyond that, the automaker isn’t always speak me approximately similarly steps in the direction of increasing the gadget. Building out the mapping community of divided highways is one thing, however we have got visible huge guarantees from General Motors approximately its next-era Ultra Cruise gadget. That will reputedly be capable of now no longer simplest perform on highways, however ultimately 95-percentage of all using eventualities in line with the automaker: that includes “almost each street which includes town streets, subdivision streets and paved rural roads,” GM guarantees. The human motive force at the back of the wheel will nevertheless want to screen it, however it’d be a massive breakthrough from Super Cruise today.

I’m of the opinion that genuine self sustaining cars are nevertheless pretty a few manner out, and I’m now no longer by myself in that pessimism. These Level 2 help structures are not a lot precursors to driverless cars, as they are — whilst handled sensibly — confined methods to relieve pressure in sure conditions and settings. Used appropriately, I’ve observed they are able to sincerely assist there, aleven though the key’s verbal exchange among automobile and motive force as to who, exactly, is doing what at every second in time. Active Cruise virtually has the underpinnings of simply this sort of gadget, however I sense like Lincoln nevertheless has a few paintings to do on making it a greater collaborative co-pilot.


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