Ford reveals BlueCruise, its hands-free driving tech to rival Tesla Autopilot and GM's Super Cruise
- Ford revealed details about its upcoming hands-free driving system to rival Tesla Autopilot on Wednesday.
- BlueCruise will enable hands-free driving on more than 100,000 miles of North American highways.
- It will be available for certain F-150 trucks and Mustang Mach-E crossovers later in 2021.
Ford has teased hands-free driving capability for a while, and on Wednesday revealed the first details about its system, including the name: BlueCruise.
The software will enable drivers to take their hands off the steering wheel and let the car do most of the work on more than 100,000 miles of North American highways, Ford said. Certain 2021 F-150 trucks and Mustang Mach-E crossovers can gain access to BlueCruise later in 2021 through an over-the-air software update.
BlueCruise builds on Ford's existing driver-assistance suite, using radar sensors and cameras to keep a car in its lane, maintain a safe distance from other cars, and read speed limit signs. Drivers can switch on the system when they enter so-called "Hands-Free Blue Zones," and the system lets drivers know when they're on a qualifying road through blue lighting on the instrument cluster.
Like Tesla's Autopilot and General Motors' Super Cruise, BlueCruise is an SAE Level 2 driver-assistance system that isn't fully autonomous and requires full driver attention. A driver-facing camera mounted above the steering wheel monitors a driver's head position and eyes to ensure they're paying attention to the road, similar to Super Cruise. Tesla, on the other hand, requires drivers to place a hand on the steering wheel rather than monitoring their gaze.
Tesla, despite facing mounting scrutiny over Autopilot's branding and its role in several recent car crashes, is one of the top companies to beat when it comes to driver-assist technology, and Ford acknowledges that. Ford on Wednesday said BlueCruise is "similar to Tesla Autopilot but with the advantage of offering a true hands-free driving experience."
In a Wednesday tweet announcing BlueCruise, Ford CEO Jim Farley took a dig at Tesla's "Full Self-Driving" software, a successor to Autopilot that the firm is beta testing using thousands of its own customers on public roads.
"BlueCruise! We tested it in the real world, so our customers don't have to," Farley said.
-Jim Farley (@jimfarley98) April 14, 2021
Ford said its engineers have completed more than 500,000 miles of testing using BlueCruise, including 110,000 miles during a road trip that took 10 vehicles across 37 US states and five Canadian provinces.
BlueCruise comes standard on the Mustang Mach-E CA Route 1, Premium, and First Edition models. It's available as an option on the Select trim for buyers who spend $2,600 on a "Comfort and Technology" package along with $600 on a three-year subscription to the system.
For most F-150s, BlueCruise will cost $995 for the underlying tech package, along with the $600 software fee.
At some point down the line, Ford plans to add more advanced capabilities like automated lane changes. It also aims to regularly update the system with thousands of additional miles of compatible roads.
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